17-year-old girl becomes youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan, a city controlled by the Taliban. 

She was mainly educated by her father, Ziauddin, a poet and pro-education activist who runs a school for girls.

Malala's father insisted on treating his daughter the exact same way he treats her two brothers, an attitude that is in stark contrast to the rest of Pakistani society. For example, he included his daughter in the family registry which normally only lists the males in the family. And Malala has always been allowed to stay up late to discuss politics.

When Malala was 11, her father took her to the local press club in Peshawar so Malala could participate in a public discussion with adults. She spoke out firmly against the Taliban regime which forbids the education of girls. Malala's speech was entitled "How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?"

The crowd was in awe of the young girl. After all, speaking out against the Taliban was a very dangerous thing to do.

Malala's father was deeply impressed: his daughter obviously had a brilliant gift for public speaking. Malala had always said she wanted to become a doctor, but from that point on, her father was determined to guide her into a career in politics.

At the age of 12, Malala secretly started blogging for the BBC under a fake identity. She described her life as a very young girl in Pakistan and wrote about rights for girls and women.

But then her real identity was revealed.

Malala became more and more famous in Pakistan and throughout the Western world.

She received several international prizes that rewarded her commitment, her courage and her outspokenness.

During a ceremony for one of these prizes, Malala stated that she did not belong to any political party but was thinking of founding one. She was only 14 years old at the time.

To no-one's surprise, the Taliban regime wasn't about to accept the challenge to their authority from a young girl. She was denounced on public radio and threatened with death.

In October 2012, a masked man boarded a school bus in which Malala was a passenger. He shouted: "Which one of you is Malala? Speak up or I will shoot you all!" When Malala stood up, the man shot her three times.

Malala survived the attack but her life was hanging by a thread. She was brought to the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology where she was able to recover enough so she could make the trip to Birmingham, England to receive special treatment. She and her family made Birmingham their home following her recovery.

Malala had been shot in the head, but fortunately her brain was not damaged. After surgery to repair her skull, she was able to make an impressive recovery.

The brave girl hasn't let the attempt on her life slow her down and continues to campaign tirelessly for women's right to education and independence.

In 2013, Malala was shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 2014 she won. She was only 17 years old, making her the youngest person ever to receive the prestigious prize.

That same year she published her autobiography, I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.

In 2015, the documentary film He Named Me Malala was released.

You can watch the trailer here:

You can learn more about Malala's inspiring life in this video:

As many areas of the world continue to suffer under dangerous, totalitarian regimes and anti-women, anti-education populist agendas, Malala's voice continues to grow in influence and importance. She has famously said, "With guns you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism."

There are still too many countries where women do not have access to education and are trapped in cultures where they are little more than servants to the male population. Malala is speaking for all of them.

As to her own education, she is expected to enroll in a British university (still to be decided) this autumn and will study politics, philosophy and economics.


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