Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. As a child, she became an advocate for girls’ education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived, and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. In 2014, she was nominated again and won, becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Yousafzai was born on 12 July 1997 in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, into a Sunni Muslim family of Pashtun ethnicity. She was given her first name Malala (meaning “grief-stricken” after Malalai of Maiwand, a famous Pashtun poetess and warrior woman from southern Afghanistan. Her last name,Yousafzai, is that of a large Pashtun tribal confederation that is predominant in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where she grew up.
Fluent in Pashto, English, and Urdu, Yousafzai was educated in large part by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is a poet, school owner, and an educational activist himself, running a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School. She once stated to an interviewer that she would like to become a doctor, though later her father encouraged her to become a politician instead.
Yousafzai started speaking about education rights as early as September 2008, when her father took her to Peshawar to speak at the local press club. “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” Yousafzai asked her audience in a speech covered by newspapers and television channels throughout the region. As a child, she became an advocate for girls’ education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived, and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. In critical condition, so she was flown to a military hospital in Peshawar. A portion of her skull was removed to treat her swelling brain. To receive further care, she was transferred to Birmingham, England.
After the Attack
Once she was in the United Kingdom, Yousafzai was taken out of a medically induced coma. Though she would require multiple surgeries—including repair of a facial nerve to fix the paralyzed left side of her face—she had suffered no major brain damage. In March 2013, she was able to begin attending school in Birmingham.
The shooting resulted in a massive outpouring of support for Yousafzai, which continued during her recovery. She gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday, in 2013. She has also written an autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, which was released in October 2013.
In October 2014, Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. At age 17, she became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In congratulating Yousafzai, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “She is (the) pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described her as “a brave and gentle advocate of peace who through the simple act of going to school became a global teacher.”
Yousafzai has been awarded the following national and international honours:
- 2011 International Children’s Peace Prize(nominee)
- 2011 National Youth Peace Prize
- Anne Frank Award for Moral Courage, January 2012
- Sitara-e-Shujaat, Pakistan’s third-highest civilian bravery award, October 2012
- Foreign Policymagazine top 100 global thinker, November 2012
- 2012 Timemagazine Person of the Year shortlist
- Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice, November 2012
- Rome Prize for Peace and Humanitarian Action, December 2012
- Top Name of 2012 in Annual Survey of Global English, January 2013
- Simone de Beauvoir Prize, January 2013
- Memminger Freiheitspreis 1525, March 2013 (conferred on 7 December 2013 in Oxford )
- Doughty Street Advocacy award of Index on Censorship, March 2013
- Fred and Anne Jarvis Award of the UK National Union of Teachers, March 2013
- Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards, Global Trailblazer, April 2013
- One of Time ’s “100 Most Influential People In The World”, April 2013
- Premi Internacional Catalunya Award of Catalonia, May 2013
- Annual Award for Development of the OPEC Fund for International Development(OFID), June 2013
- International Campaigner of the Year, 2013 Observer Ethical Awards, June 2013
- 2012 Tipperary International Peace Award, Ireland Tipperary Peace Convention, August 2013
- International Children’s Peace Prize, KidsRights, 2013
- Portrait of Yousafzai by Jonathan Yeo displayed at National Portrait Gallery, London (2013)
- Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International
- 2013 Clinton Global Citizen Awards from Clinton Foundation
- Harvard Foundation’s Peter Gomes Humanitarian Award from Harvard University
- 2013 Anna Politkovskaya Award– Reach All Women In War
- 2013 Reflections of Hope Award– Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
- 2013 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought– awarded by the European Parliament
- 2013 honoraryMaster of Arts degree awarded by the University of Edinburgh
- 2013 Pride of Britain (October)
- 2013 Glamour magazine Woman of the Year
- 2013 GG2 Hammer Award at GG2 Leadership Awards (November)
- 2013 International Prize for Equality and Non-Discrimination
- 2014 Nominee for World Children’s Prize also known as Children’s Nobel Prize
- 2014 Skoll Global Treasure Award
- 2014 Honorary Doctor of Civil Law, University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
- 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, shared with Kailash Satyarthi
- 2014 Philadelphia Liberty Medal
- In 2014 she was named one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014” by Time magazine.
She says, “I Raise up my Voice-not so that I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard.”
and “My goal is not to get Nobel Peace Prize. My goal is to get peace and my goal is to see education of every Child.”