Malala Yousafzai

Youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, Nobel Peace Prize recipient

Yousafzai, Malala 6.jpg

"Malala Yousafzai (Urdu: ملالہ یوسفزئی‬‎; Pashto: ملاله یوسفزۍ‎) is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement.

 

Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Her family came to run a chain of schools in the region. Considering Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto as her role models, she was particularly inspired by her father's thoughts and humanitarian work. In early 2009, when she was 11–12, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdu detailing her life during the Taliban occupation of Swat. The following summer, journalist Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. She rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize by activist Desmond Tutu.

 

On 9 October 2012, while on a bus in Swat District after taking an exam, Yousafzai and two other women were shot by a Taliban gunman in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism; the gunman fled. Having been hit with a bullet, she remained unconscious and in critical condition at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK. The murder attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Yousafzai. Deutsche Welle wrote in January 2013 that she may have become "the most famous teenager in the world". Weeks after her murder attempt, a group of fifty leading Muslim clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her. Taliban officials responded to condemnation by further denouncing Yousafzai, indicating plans for a possible second assassination attempt, and attempting to justify the shooting as religiously obligated. Their statements resulted in further international denunciation.

 

Since recovering, Yousafzai became a prominent education activist. Based out of Birmingham, she founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit organisation, and in 2013 co-authored I am Malala, an international bestseller. In 2012, she was the recipient of Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize and the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In 2014, she 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, she became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. In 2015, Yousafzai was a subject of the Oscar-shortlisted documentary He Named Me Malala. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured her as one of the most influential people globally. In 2017, Yousafzai's children's picture book Malala's Magic Pencil was published. From 2013 to 2017, she was a pupil at the all-girls Edgbaston High School in Birmingham. In 2017, she was awarded honorary Canadian citizenship and became the youngest person to address the House of Commons of Canada. In August 2017, she gained admission to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford to study for a bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)...

 

Yousafzai spoke before the United Nations in July 2013, and had an audience with Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace. In September, she spoke at Harvard University, and in October, she met with US President Barack Obama and his family; during that meeting, she confronted him on his use of drone strikes in Pakistan. In December, she addressed the Oxford Union. In July 2014, Yousafzai spoke at the Girl Summit in London, advocating for rights for girls. In October 2014, after receiving the World Children's Prize for the rights of the child in Mariefred, Sweden, she announced donating $50,000 through the UNRWA, to help rebuild 65 schools in Gaza…

 

On 12 July 2013, Yousafzai's 16th birthday, she spoke at the UN to call for worldwide access to education. The UN dubbed the event "Malala Day". Yousafzai wore one of Benazir Bhutto's shawls to the UN. It was her first public speech since the attack, leading the first ever Youth Takeover of the UN, with an audience of over 500 young education advocates from around the world.

 

The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born ... I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I'm here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists.

 

Yousafzai received several standing ovations. Ban Ki-moon, who also spoke at the session, described her as "our hero". Yousafzai also presented the chamber with "The Education We Want", a Youth Resolution of education demands written by Youth for Youth, in a process co-ordinated by the UN Global Education First Youth Advocacy Group, telling her audience:

 

Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights…

 

On 10 October 2014, Yousafzai was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Having received the prize at the age of 17, Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel laureate. Yousafzai shared the prize with Kailash Satyarthi, a children's rights activist from India. She is the second Pakistani to receive a Nobel Prize after 1979 Physics laureate Abdus Salam…

 

Even though she was fighting for women's rights as well as children's rights, she did not describe herself as a feminist when asked on Forbes Under 30 Summit in 2014. In 2015, however, Yousafzai 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, Yousafzai was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

 

On 12 July 2015, her 18th birthday, Yousafzai opened a school in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, near the Syrian border, for Syrian refugees. The school, funded by the not-for-profit Malala Fund, offers education and training to girls aged 14 to 18 years. Yousafzai called on world leaders to invest in "books, not bullets".

 

Yousafzai has repeatedly condemned the Rohingya persecution in Myanmar. In June 2015, the Malala Fund released a statement in which Yousafzai argues that the Rohingya people deserve "citizenship in the country where they were born and have lived for generations" along with "equal rights and opportunities." She urges world leaders, particularly in Myanmar, to "halt the inhuman persecution of Burma's Muslim minority Rohingya people." In September 2017, speaking in Oxford, Yousafzai said that "This should be a human rights issue. Governments should react to it. People are being displaced, they're facing violence." Yousafzai also posted a statement on Twitter calling for Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to condemn the treatment of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Suu Kyi has avoided taking sides in the conflict, or condemning violence against the Rohingya people, leading to widespread criticism." (1)

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