Malala Yousafzai is one of the most promising international figures in the last five years. She is the icon with exceptional mental strength.
Born on 12 July, 1991 in Swat Valley, Pakistan, she is an activist for female education and the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially education of women in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending schools. Her advocacy has since grown into an international movement.
She was named after Malalai of Maiwand, one of the greatest heroines of Afghanistan, albeit, it meant ‘grief-stricken’, but she proved this to be wrong in true sense. She was tutored by her father Ziauddin Yousafzai . She led a harmonious life with brothers Atal and Khushal. She was highly encouraged by her father, who was a poet, school owner, and an educational activist himself, whom Malala termed as the “falcon”.
Being influenced by Mohammed Ali Zinnah and Benazir Bhutto, she got her mantra- fight for right and became a blogger, which was a short step towards the zenith of her life. During the first Battle of Swat, as military operations took place, fewer girls showed up to school, and finally, the girls’ schools were shut down. However, with her immense effort, the schools were opened again.
Coming to her academic career, she was a brilliant student, fluent in Pashto, English, and Urdu, she cherished to be a doctor but her mindset was towards the wellbeing of the society. In October 2011, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a South African activist, nominated her for the International Children’s Peace Prize of the Dutch international children’s advocacy group Kids Rights Foundation. She was the first Pakistani girl to be nominated for the award.
With her growing popularity, dangers too came along her way. On 9 October 2012, while she was returning home after an examination in the Swat Valley, by bus, a Taliban gunman shot her. Though injured badly with one bullet, which went through her head, neck, and ended in her shoulder, her fighting spirit made her recover the malign wounds.
Eventually, she came to limelight. From then, she began the second voyage of her life and started Malala-fund, a nonprofit fund for helping women and children. In 2014, she received Noble Peace Prize jointly with Indian children’s right activist, Kailash Sathyarthy. This was the greatest milestone of her life till today.
In April 2017, she was appointed by the United Nations Secretary General as a messenger of peace to promote girls education. She was also a pupil at the Edgbaston High School at Birmingham. In August she was accepted at the Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. In 2013, United Nations announced her birthday as the Malala Day, for promoting peace across the world.
Malala Day signifies admiring and respecting women, and giving them equal right for education, for giving tribute to the youngest ever Noble laureate.
We need young girls like her to protest and stand up against all the evil customs and for the rights of women.
(Coordinator, Class VIII, Bongaon High School)