Contemporary Activists | Pakistan

Malala Yousafzai | Children’s & Women’s Rights Activist  


The Story of Malala Youssafzai is no doubt familiar to us all. Malala lived in Mingora, Pakistan. When the Taliban attempted to take over they enforced their sexist views on the country, one rule being the exclusion of women from education after the age of 8. Malala attended a school that her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, had founded. Her father was an anti-Taliban activist. Malala was a strong advocate for women rights to education at the young age of 11, after the Taliban attacked schools in Mingora she was fruited even more and pushed even further for equality and education.

In 2008 at age 11 she gave a speech in Peshawar titled, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”. In early 2009 she began blogging under a hidden identity for the BBC about living under the Taliban’s threats of denying her education and basic rights as a human. But in December of that year her cover was blown.


With a growing public platform, she continued to speak out about her right, and the right of all women, to an education. Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. That same year, she was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.

With the growth of her public identity the family learned that death threats were issued against her. Her family didn’t think that the Taliban would hurt a child, but Malala  worried for the safety of her parents. On October 9, 2012 Malala was riding the bus to school when a masked gunman entered her school bus requesting for Malala. Her friends looked at her which gave away her identity. The gunman shot Malala in the side of her head and he also injured other passengers. Malala was left 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.

Since the attack Malala now lives in England with her family and is back to health. She continues to advocate for women’s rights to education across the globe. Malala won the Noble Peace Prize in 2014 at age 17 being the youngest person to ever receive the prize. Malala has run campaigns such as the #BooksNotBullets , where she tries to enlighten people to act against violence to persuade the governments to filter money away from military budgets and focus all that money on education.

The teenage activist wrote: “The shocking truth is that world leaders have the money to fully fund primary AND secondary education around the world – but they are choosing to spend it on other things, like their military budgets. In fact, if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”

Malala is one of the most prominent activists of the 21st century who proves that our digital culture can be effectively used to promote change and justice in the world. And that the female voice is just as strong as anyone else voice.


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