Learn about Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate Malala
Malala was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan, to proud parents Ziauddin and Toor Pekai Yousafzai. Ziauddin names his daughter after Malalai, a Pashtun heroine.
Although having a girl is not usually a reason for celebration in Pakistan, Ziauddin – an educator – is determined to make sure Malala receives every opportunity a boy would, so he promises that Malala will go to school and be treated with equality in his home.
Malala grows up a happy child in the Swat Valley, sharing her father’s passion for learning and education, spending most of her time in her father’s school where she pretends to learn and teach others.
Malala learns that education means opportunity and freedom, things she desires from a young age.
In 2007, Taliban militants take control of Swat. They slowly begin to reshape life in the area, taking control over what is allowed and not for the Muslim population of the valley. They start to ban things like owning a television and playing music — and enforce harsh punishments, including public executions, for citizens who defy their orders.
Conflict soon arises between the Pakistani army and the Taliban. Homes are destroyed, families displaced, schools bombed to the ground. Malala and her family, as well as many others flee in an attempt to save their lives.
Malala is no longer a child and her education starts to bear fruit when she takes the initiative to speak against the Taliban oppression. She joins forces with the BBC and starts blogging about life as she experiences in the final days before the closing of her school.
The wheel of the press starts to turn. Media around the world starts to pay attention to the young girl in the Swat Valley that’s facing the Taliban full-on, speaking up against them and naming them on camera. Malala’s influence starts to grow but so does the danger she’s in.
In spite of a serious threat posed by the enraged Taliban, Malala continues to speak out against them publicly and to campaign for girls to go to school. She wins Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.
Her popularity and influence have grown to the point where the Taliban are determined to make an example out of her. Malala is now a target.
On October 9 2012 a masked gunman boards Malala’s school bus and asks for her by name. Fires are shot at close range and Malala is hit in the head, neck and shoulder. Two of her friends, Kainat and Shazia, are also injured in the attack.
Under the gaze of a shocked world, in critical condition, Malala is rapidly flown the The United Kingdom for emergency treatment. She survives, but remains in critical condition.
On July 12, 2013 during her first public appearance since the attack, Malala speaks at the United Nations on her 16th birthday. The U.N. declares July 12th “Malala Day” — and Malala promises to dedicate this day each year to shining a spotlight on the world’s most vulnerable girls.
In the same year, Malala and her father set up the Malala Fund. an organization dedicated to give all girls access to education.
Over the next few years, Malala meets with girls around the world and many heads of state, carrying her message of girls’ education and equality.
In December 2014, Malala becomes the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, receiving the Nobel Prize for peace. She invites girls from Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan to attend the ceremony in Oslo.
She celebrates her 18th birthday by opening a secondary school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
On October 2, 2015 ‘HE NAMED ME MALALA’, a documentary by Academy-Award winning director Davis Guggenheim, hits theatres and brings Malala’s story to audiences in 175 countries and 11 languages. The documentary has recently been made available by Netflix on their platform.