Facts About Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai is a well-known Pakistani activist campaigning for education rights, particularly for young girls. In light of her mission and her extraordinary achievements, here are 12 facts about Malala Yousafzai.

12 Facts About Malala Yousafzai

  1. Malala was born in the Swat District of Pakistan. This region fell under the rule of the Taliban, which is a fundamentalist terrorist group that imposes highly restrictive rules on women and girls. The Taliban banned girls from attending school or receiving an education of any kind.
  2. Her father was a teacher and ran a chain of schools throughout the local region. He continuously encouraged all of his children to learn despite the societal restrictions. Malala credits her father for inspiring her to pursue further education and humanitarian work.
  3. Malala blogged for BBC for several years. In 2008, BBC Urdu journalists began looking for a young student to share private insight on what life was like under the Taliban. Despite the danger of being caught, Malala’s father recommended her for the assignment and she began blogging in secret, anonymously chronicling her life and her perspective on the rule of the Taliban. She was 11 years old.
  4. Malala started to gain notoriety from standing up to the Taliban publicly. With her father’s blessing, she openly opposed the Taliban rules set in place and began working to regain access to education for both herself and other girls throughout the region.
  5. She was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011 due to her activism and was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize that same year. The Prime Minister of Pakistan later renamed the award the National Malala Peace Prize in her honor.
  6. The Taliban shot Malala in the head when she was 15 years old. Her newfound popularity and voice against the Taliban made Malala a high-profile target and in 2012 she was the victim of a nearly fatal assassination attempt. She was on the way home from school when a masked gunman asked for her by name and openly fired on her and her friends.
  7. She created the Malala Fund, a charity devoted to bringing equal education opportunities to girls around the world. Malala went to the United Kingdom for medical treatment directly after the shooter’s attack where she and her family settled permanently. Afterward, she established the Malala Fund with her father. Within its first year of operation, the Malala Fund raised over $7 million and opened up multiple schools in Malala’s native Pakistan.
  8. She celebrated her sixteenth birthday by giving a speech to the United Nations. Nine months after the assassination attempt, Malala spoke at invitation before world leaders and urged them to change certain policies in regard to education and women’s rights. Since then, Malala has held audience with notable political figures such as Queen Elizabeth and Former U.S. President Barack Obama and given lectures at Harvard University and the Oxford Union.
  9. July 12 has been officially designated Malala Day. After her critically acclaimed speech on her birthday at the United Nations, Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, urged all young people to speak out and let the world hear their voices. In an act of support, he declared Malala’s birthday Malala Day in honor of her courage and influential activism.
  10. She was a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. After sharing her story, Malala catapulted to international fame and she received an outpouring of support from around the world as her story spread. In honor of her efforts, she became the youngest ever Nobel laureate at the age of 17.
  11. Malala received the United Nation’s highest honor. In 2017 she received the title of U.N. Messenger of Peace to promote girl’s education, a two-year appointment given to activists whose work has made an impact. The U.N. selects recipients carefully based on their future goals and past work, and the recipients engage closely with the United Nations’ leaders in an effort to make a change.
  12. Oxford University accepted Malala in 2017 where she began studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics. While pursuing her own studies, she currently still works with leaders and organizations around the globe on behalf of the Malala Fund and the United Nations, fighting for equal education for all.

While these 12 facts about Malala Yousafzai cannot encompass all of her achievements and work, they show that Malala’s bravery and perseverance have proven worthwhile in the face of adversity. Her goal to provide education to the world is a necessary step in ending global poverty.

“I raise my voice not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.” – Malala Yousafzai.

– Olivia Bendle
Photo: Flickr

Malala Yousafzai
On October 9, 2012, while traveling home on a school bus, a masked gunman targeted Malala Yousafzai and shot her in the head and neck, critically injuring her and wounding two of classmates.

At the age of 12, Yousafzai became an activist for education equality and women’s rights after writing a blog pseudonymously for the BBC that painted the picture of her life, and the lives of many other women and girls living in Pakistan’s Swat District, under extremist Taliban rule.

The moving BBC diary about Malala Yousafzai entitled, Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl, surfaced in 2009 after an edict, the Sharia law, banned girls in the Swat District from attending school. To enforce the edict, schools were bombed and families phased out of Swat, fleeing to other cities where their daughters could attend school without objection or threat to their lives.

Following the online publication of Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl, the New York Times produced a documentary called, Class Dismissed: Malala’s Story, which gained worldwide attention and brought Yousafzai notoriety for her bravery and stance against education inequality.

Now 16, Malala remarkably recovered from the attempted assassination with no cognitive damage after being treated in a rehabilitation center in the UK. It has been reported that Yousafzai was attacked for her attempt to promote a “smear campaign” against the Taliban. In a letter sent to Malala, the Taliban noted that they “never attacked [her] because of going to school…the Taliban believe[d] that [she was] intentionally writing against them and running a smearing campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system[s] in Swat.”

They also found her guilty of “provocative writings.”

Despite the Taliban’s efforts to frighten Malala into coming back to Pakistan, the young activist courageously continues her fight for education reform and women’s rights in Pakistan, by way of Britain, where she currently lives.

Malala received the coveted International Children’s Peace Prize and gave a speech at the United Nations in July which earned her a nomination for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest person ever to be considered for the award.

In a world where 57 million children don’t have access to education, 32 million of those children being girls, Malala Yousafzai is a role-model to all as she fosters awareness about the ongoing global issue of gender-based inequality and prejudice in education.

Because of The Malala Fund and the efforts of the Millennium Development Goals, the number of children with lack of access to primary education has declined by almost half—from 102 million to 57 million. However, considerable efforts are still underway to ensure that all children to have access to education, one day.

– Afieya Kipp

Sources: BBC, NY Times, Channel 4, UNDP


Malala Yousafzai Facts