Sitting on a bus heading to school is a fairly mundane event. Add a few things, and the event becomes much more terrifying. A gunman on a bus. Terrified preteens staring with fear. A threatening gunman looking for a specific girl. Petrified children looking at her and revealing her location. A shot to the girl’s head which goes down her neck and into her shoulder. A rushed transportation to Birmingham where part of her skull is removed. All of those things happened to Malala Yousafzai on a bus ride on October 9, 2012.
Malala was 15 when the Taliban found and tried to assassinate her. As a child she had fought for girls’ education which was against the Taliban rule. In 2008, at 11 years old she wrote a speech, “How Dare the Taliban Take Away my Basic Right to Education?” She then blogged under a pseudo name of Gul Makai about life under the Taliban rule, but she was exposed by the Taliban within that same year. This was another hit directly against them, and one they didn’t forget. At 14 she was awarded with the Pakistan’s National youth Peace Prize. At 15, the Taliban found and attacked her on her way to school where she was rushed to England for advanced medical and reparative surgeries. At 16, Malala wrote her autobiography, I am Malala: The Girl who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. That same year she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and a year later she won and became the youngest person to receive the award.
Because of her efforts for equal rights for women and children, the United Nations (UN) dedicated July 14th as Malala Day. This is a day for children to stand up and express they are stronger than and what they believe in. This day works in conjunction with the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative plan to have all children in school by 2015. On this day, Malala made a video that said she was stronger than fear and she would continue to work for equal education for everyone.
Malala Yousafzai found out from a young age what she was passionate about, and she fought for it. She is wise beyond her years, and she continues to strive for her cause. While she still speaks up for educational rights for all women, she is greeted with hostility, even from her homeland of Pakistan. On November 10, Pakistan had almost 200,000 schools participate in “I am not Malala” day because she had questioned and criticized Pakistan’s constitution, ideology, and religion. During this day, schools focus on the core, traditional values of what it means to be Pakistani. Federation President Ali said that every November 10 would mark the anti-Malala day until she “apologizes and disowns whatever anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam rubbish she wrote.”
Even through the constant backlash, Malala Yousafzai still works intimately to gain awareness for children, especially women’s education. She created a fund for high risk areas such as Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan and Kenya and continues to be an advocate for women’s rights.
If you want to learn more about Malala’s journey, check it out here.
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