Malala Yousafzai (born July 12, 1997) is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.
She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Malala’s advocacy has since grown into an international movement.
Her family runs a chain of schools in the region. In early 2009, when she was 11–12, Malala wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdu detailing her life under Taliban occupation, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls in the Swat Valley.
The following summer, journalist Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. Malala rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.
On the afternoon of 9 October 2012, Malala boarded her school bus in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat. A gunman asked for her by name, then pointed a pistol at her and fired three shots. One bullet hit the left side of Malala’s forehead, travelled under her skin through the length of her face, and went into her shoulder.
In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, for intensive rehabilitation.
On October 12, a group of 50 Muslim clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her, but the Taliban reiterated their intent to kill Malala and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai. The assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Malala. Deutsche Welle wrote in January 2013 that Malala may have become “the most famous teenager in the world.”
United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a UN petition in Malala’s name, demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015; it helped lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill.
The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured Malala as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, and the recipient of the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In July that year, she spoke at the headquarters of the United Nations to call for worldwide access to education, and in October the Government of Canada announced its intention that its parliament confer Honorary Canadian citizenship upon Malala.
In February 2014, she was nominated for the World Children’s Prize in Sweden. Even though she was fighting for women’s rights as well as children’s rights, she did not describe herself as feminist when asked on Forbes Under 30 Summit in 2014.
In 2015, however, Malala told Emma Watson she decided to call herself a feminist after hearing Watson’s speech at the UN launching the HeForShe campaign. In May 2014, Malala was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Later in 2014, Malala was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi, for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Aged 17 at the time, Malala became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.
She was the subject of Oscar-shortlisted 2015 documentary He Named Me Malala.
Since March 2013, she has been a pupil at the all-girls’ Edgbaston High School in Birmingham.On 20 August 2015, she achieved a string of A’s and A*s in her GCSE exams.
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