Malala Yousafzai is an everyday hero to girls everywhere. She is the true embodiment of standing up for women’s rights. Shot in the head for standing up for what she believes in, she became an inspiration to young girls around the world. We love to feature inspirational stories from women around the world, but Malala’s story is not like the rest. She’s probably one of the only women who was shot as a child for defending women’s rights. She was barely 15 when the incident took place in her school bus heading home. To say that such an act of terrorism on a young girl shocked the world is an understatement. Why did this happen? What did the talibans have against her? And how has Malala quickly become a hero to girls around the world?
Growing up in Pakistan
Malala was born in Pakistan in 1997 to a Muslim family. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, is an educational activist who runs a chain of private schools. Malala and her father are very close and would stay up late at night talking about politics. Inspired by influential people such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Malala became encouraged to help women around the world get access to education.
Education: A Basic Human Right
While most countries don’t have an issue with their female population attending school, this was not the case in Pakistan. The Taliban has such a huge power in the country. Therefore, it’s become dangerous for young girls to get access to education.
“I was afraid going to school because the Taliban had issued and edict banning all girls from attending schools. Only 11 out of 27 pupils attended the class because the number decreased because of the Taliban’s edict.”
In September 2008, at just 11 years old, Malala started speaking about education rights at the local press club. Addressing the Taliban directly, Malala stated that the Taliban had no right to take away a person’s basic right to education. At such a young age, Malala already knew that something wasn’t right. The Taliban had no right to send out orders to ban girls from attending school. Shortly after, she started her journey as a trainee and as a peer educator in the Institute for War and Peace Reporting’s Open Minds Pakistan youth programme. The purpose of the program was to have schools in the region help young people engage in discussions on social issues.
Malala: The BBC Blogger
While BBC was aware about the bans that the Talibans were sending out in Pakistan, they did not know the gravity of it. Therefore, they decided to have a schoolgirl who was personally living it to blog about it anonymously. With not a lot of students who were ready to do so since it would put them and their family in danger, finding a schoolgirl to accept the task became a challenge. Ziauddin thought about his daughter, Malala. She was much younger then other schoolgirls who were approached, being just 11 at the time. However, she was involved in several activities to encourage education at the time, so it wouldn’t be that difficult for her to blog about it. At the time, Talibans had already taken over Malala’s village by banning television, music, girl’s education and women shopping.
On January 3rd 2009, Malala’s first blog was published on BBC. On January 15th 2009, two weeks after her first blog got published, an order was put by the Taliban to ban girls from attending school.
United We Stand
To support the girls schools that were shutdown, boys private schools decided to not open either. The Taliban decided to have girls schools reopened on a temporary basis to allow girls to finish their exams for the school year. However, it was on condition that they wear burqas. For a while, things seemed to go back to normal. Malala stated in one of her blogs that she and her friends were having fun like the old days before the Taliban took over. The Taliban was still active in the area. While they seemed to be not as strict, people were still afraid that the act of peace between the Taliban and the military was only temporary. Unfortunately, they were right.
A School Bus, A Gun, 3 Girls
As time went on, Malala became more recognized. A strong activist, she was not afraid to express her thoughts about the Taliban and women’s rights. Being forced to act. the Taliban decided unanimously in the summer of 2012 to kill her. In October of 2012, Malala’s school bus was stopped by the Taliban while she was on her way home. Entering the school bus, the Taliban was quick to identify and shot her in the head injuring 2 other girls in the process. Airlifted to a military hospital and after a 5-hour long operation, Malala miraculously survived although she was in critical condition.
The whole world was in shock after this cruel attack on a 15-year-old girl. Therefore, doctors from around the world were offering their help to treat her. Eventually, she was moved to the UK for further treatment. By October 17th 2012, about 2 weeks after the shooting, Malala came out of her coma and began responding to treatment. A few months later, she was released from the hospital. With the Talibans still in power, it’s still not safe for her to got back to Pakistan. Malala has remained in the UK where she continued to seek treatment following her injuries.
A True Hero
Malala didn’t let her shooting stop her from continuing to fight for women’s rights. In fact she is now more determined then ever to allow girls everywhere have access to proper education. She is a true activist for women’s rights and has even been the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize. In 2014, for all the work that she has done, Malala was the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize and this has encouraged her to continue to fight for what she believes in. Malala is a hero for girls everywhere and I think it’s safe to say that our world needs more people like her. She has proven the true meaning of #GirlPower and we could not be more proud of all that she has accomplished and will continue to accomplish for years to come.