Malala Yousafzai is one of the most inspiring young people in the world.
I recently read her biography ‘I am Malala’,
which she wrote, in a beautiful voice, when she was 16 years old.
Malala is from Swat Valley in north-eastern Pakistan, an area that has been overrun by the Taliban. Her father believed in giving his daughter the same rights and the same education that any boy should get. He encouraged her to make the most of school, which she loved, and he bravely spoke out against the Taliban when they started to restrict women and girls access to education. Malala followed in her father’s footsteps and found a voice for herself against the injustices suffered in her land at the hands of the Taliban. She particularly spoke out for the rights and education of girls.
On the 9th October 2012, as Malala was coming home from school, on the bus with all her friends, a man pulled a gun out and shot her in the head. She was 15 years old. Miraculously she did not die. Her father rushed her to hospital where a Western physician stabilised her. But she could not get the treatment she desperately needed in Pakistan. The whole world held their breath as the Queen of Saudi Arabia lent Malala her private jet, kitted out with the medical equipment she needed, and flew her to Birmingham, England for treatment. Where slowly, slowly, she made an amazing recovery.
Her mother and father were flown to Britain and given a house in Birmingham, and told not to go back to Pakistan. Malala went back to school, but missed her homeland. In her book Malala says that she does not want to be remembered as ‘the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban’, but as a young advocate for the basic human right of education. One of the most inspiring things I have ever seen is the speech that Malala made in the UN, speaking for education for all children, everywhere.
In 2014 she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism in education of children. At age 17 she is the youngest person to win the award. Malala and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai have co-founded the Malala Fund, which helps get children and especially girls gain an education in Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan and Kenya. For more information about this please go to the website: www.malala.org
The below video is of Malala's speech at the UN Youth Assembly, on 12th July 2013- Malala's 16th birthday. It was her first public speech after the attack. The day has been named 'Malala Day.'