Note: Sorry about the lateness, but I have been feeling under the weather for a few days. I intended to make this post about Malala Yousafzai yesterday for Write Anything Wednesday, but I was out of it. (I still am, but …)
In honor of Women’s History month, I wanted to look at Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner first gained attention as a writer for BBC.com and gained worldwide support after being shot by the Taliban in 2012.
Throughout her life, Yousafzai has remained a steadfast women’s rights and education advocate. And she was inspired by the late Benazir Bhutto, a former Prime Minister of Pakistan (Murray).
Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan on July 12, 1997. She is one of three children.
Mingora is in the country’s Swat Valley and during Yousafzai’s early life, her hometown was a tourist attraction. Before the Taliban took over, Mingora was known for its summer festivals.
Malala Yousafzai attended a school founded by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai. Malala’s father is an anti-Taliban activist.
The Taliban were attacking girl’s schools in Swat in the early 2000’s. In September 2008, Malala Yousafzai gave a speech entitled, “How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right to Education?”
In early 2009, Yousafzai began writing a series of blog posts about her life in Pakistan for the BBC when she was only 11 years old. (In particular, she talked about how the Taliban was attacking girls’ schools.) Yousafzai adopted the pen name Gul Makai but she was later revealed to be the writer in December 2009.
Targeted by the Taliban
Yousafzai eventually became a target of the Taliban due to her activism. At first, Yousafzai and her family doubted that the Taliban would dare harm on a child, but by the time she was 15, they found out how far the Taliban would go.
On October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the left side of her head by a masked gunman who boarded a bus she and her friends were riding on their way home from school. The gunman demanded to know which girl was Malala and he was tipped off when her friends looked at her. Two other girls were injured in the attack.
Miraculously, Yousafzai suffered no major brain damage. But she was transferred to Birmingham in England to complete her treatment and undergo numerous surgeries.
Yousafzai has lived in Birmingham ever since. She began attending school in there in March 2013 (Biography).
Her Continued Activism
Although she has remained a target of the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai has always remained undeterred in her pursuit to make sure all children have education. And as a women’s rights advocate, she has a special focus on making sure more young girls are educated, particularly in the Middle East.
Yousafzai has given numerous speeches. For her 16th birthday, she gave a speech at the United Nations (Biography).
Malala and Ziauddin Yousafzai have visited nations like Lebanon and Syria. In Lebanon, Malala and her father set up the Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School, founded in 2015 and funded by the Malala Fund. In Syria, Malala argues that the children need to be given education there, especially if they are being denied access to the richest nations. She estimates it could cost $1.4 billion to provide the education, but rich nations could pitch in and it would be a fraction of a cost, compared to defense budgets (Blair).
On Winning the Nobel Peace Prize:
If I win Nobel Peace Prize, it would be a great opportunity for me, but if I don’t get it, it’s not important because my goal is not to get Nobel Peace Prize, my goal is to get peace and my goal is to see the education of every child.
When Opening the Girls’ School in Lebanon:
Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets.
When Talking About the Importance of Education:
The shocking truth is that world leaders have the money to fully fund primary AND secondary education around the world – but they are choosing to spend it on other things, like their military budgets. In fact, if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.
Awards and Honors
Malala Yousafzai has garnered the respect of the international community. As such, she has been nominated for numerous awards since she was 14.
In 2011, Yousafzai was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. She was also awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize that same year.
On October 10, 2013, Yousafzai was award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.
In 2013, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize, but she did not win. She was nominated again in March 2014 and she became the youngest winner (17 years of age) in October 2014. Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children’s rights activist, was also awarded that year (Biography).
What Malala Yousafzai Is Doing Now
Recently, Yousafazi announced that she applied to schools like Oxford University, Durham, LSE, and Warrick. All universities offer the PPE, or a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.
While speaking with educators at the Association of School and College Lecturers annual conference on Saturday, March 11, Yousafzai spoke of an interview she had at Oxford’s Lady Margaret Hall. She described the interview as “the hardest interview of my life.” In order to be formally accepted, she will have to maintain A-levels in history, mathematics, religious studies, and geography (McIntyre).
Tomorrow, I will continue my posts on Famous Sayings, but there is are 8 days left in Women’s History Month. Next week will be a doozy, because I plan to talk (more) bout the Feminist Movement. Stay tuned for that.
Biography.com Editors. “Malala Yousafzai Biography.” Biography.com. Last Updated. 22 Nov 2016. 22 Mar 2017. Web. <http://www.biography.com/people/malala-yousafzai-21362253>.
Blair, Olivia. “Malala Yousafzai calls on rich countries to provide $1.4bn for education of Syrian refugee children.” The Independent. 1 Feb 2017. Web. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/malala-yousafzai-calls-on-rich-countries-to-provide-14bn-for-education-of-syrian-refugee-children-a6846386.html>.
McIntyre, Niamh. “Malala Yousafzai hopes to study at Oxford University if she achieves AAA offer.” The Independent. 12 Mar 2017. Web. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/malala-yousafzai-oxford-university-lady-margaret-hall-pakistan-nobe-peace-prize-winner-a7625961.html>.
Murray, Daisy. “Malala Yousafzai Is Getting The Degree Of Prime Ministers.” Elle. 14 Mar 2017. Web. <http://www.elleuk.com/life-and-culture/culture/news/a34595/yep-its-ppe-at-oxford-for-the-young-activist-not-that-were-surprised/>.