Malala Yousafzai

Malala,born in Pakistan, is an activist for female education

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Global History Theme: Human Rights

The Taliban in Pakistan

With the rise of the Taliban's power, they have come to control many countries in the Middle East, Pakistan being one of them. This control has had a great effect on women and their freedom. Some of these restrictions are banning women's work outside the home, banning them from laughing or wearing bright colors, listening to music and being photographed. These are just some of the many restrictions the Taliban has put on these women. On January 15, 2009, the Taliban put in the order that girls in Pakistan would no longer be able to attend school or university. As a result, this jeopardized the future education of over 125,000 women. Since that day, women are shot if they attend school and any school that girls are enrolled in are blown up.

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Growing Up In Swat Valley

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, a town in Swat District located in the north west of Pakistan. Ziauddin Yousafzai, her father, named her after a Pashtun heroine, Malalai. He runs a school in Swat Valley near the family home that Malala attended. Ziauddin is a great figure in Malala's life and he is known is an advocate for education in Pakistan and a outspoken opponent of the Taliban. Pakistan has the second highest out of school children in the world. In the earlier years of her life, her town was a popular tourist spot known for its summer festivals, but around 2008 the area took a turn under Taliban control.
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Becoming a Secret Education Activist

As Malala attended her fathers school, she shared her passion for education, especially women education, in a speech made in Peshawar, Pakistan called "How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?" After this speech, Malala became a threat in the Taliban's eyes. Early in 2009, as the Taliban's power in Pakistan intensified, Malala began a blog for the BBC Urdu service. She used the name Gul Makai to hide her identity and was living under the threats of the Taliban to deny her education. Unfortunately later that year Malala was revealed to be the BBC blogger that was sharing her ideas about the Taliban. Malala's blog became very popular and even though her identity was revealed she continued to speak out the right to have an education. This passion earned her a nomination for the International Children's Peace Price and she was awarded Pakistan's National Youth Peace Prize all in 2011.
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Surviving a Taliban Attack

Malala and her family learned that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her when she was just 14. Although she did become frightened from the threat, she continued to update her blog. She believed that her father,an anti Taliban activist, was more at risk and that the terrorist group would never really harm a child. On October 9, 2012, that idea was proven wrong. On her way back from school, Malala's bus was stopped and a man boarded. He asked who was Malala and as everyone turned to her location was given away. The man ended up shooting Malala and two other girls on the bus. The bullet hit her on the left side of the head and the bullet traveled down her neck. She was taken to a hospital in Peshawar where she was under a coma for a week. To receive further care in her critical condition, Malala was transferred to Birmingham, England. Today, Malala still suffers from partial paralysis on the left side of her face yet she has no major brain damage.

Becoming the Youngest Person to Win a Nobel Peace Prize

In March of 2013, 5 months after the shooting, Malala was able to start attending school in Birmingham. The shooting brought lots of publicity and awareness to Malala's cause. She continues to share her message for the right of education even under the severe threat of the Taliban. On her sixteenth birthday she was invited to give a speech at the United Nations. Malala also wrote her autobiography, I Am Malala which was released in October 2013, a year after the shooting. That same year Malala was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and although she did not win, she was nominated again in 2014 and at the age of 17 she became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The day of her eighteenth birthday, July 12, 2015, which is now also known as Malala Day, she was able to open a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, sponsored by the Malala fund. In October of 2015, a documentary on her life called HE NAMED ME MALALA, was released. Now she continues to travel, speaking with world leaders to fight for everyone to have the right to education.
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The Taliban's Response

Since the shooting and Malala being awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, the Taliban has killed dozens of school children in Pakistan as part of a revenge mission. At least five militants entered a school in Peshawar, wearing security uniforms and massacred 126 people, mostly children. Malala responded to this atrocious act by continuing to fight for education and working with Pakistan leaders to stop this from happening again.
Pakistani Teenage Activist Malala Yousafzai Tells Her Story To John Stewart