The epitome of courage, Ban Ki-moon described Malala as having shown ‘what terrorists fear most: a girl with a book’.
At a young age, Malala Yousafzai has already established herself as an iconic campaigner for the rights of girls. She has fearlessly advocated for access to education for girls and became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at only 17, when she was awarded the honor along with Kailash Satyarthi for their work to promote access to education for young people.
Born in Pakistan, she witnessed the impact of the Taliban’s occupation of the Swat region where she lived. Malala wrote about her experienced in a blog for the BBC. In October 2012, when she was only 14, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman when returning home after an exam.
Malala was targeted by the Taliban, a terrorist organization, as she rose to prominence as a campaigner. The assassination attempt drew attention from around the world and it was described as a heinous and cowardly act by the then UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. Having already established herself as an articulate supporter of education for girls, Malala’s dedication and commitment continued and she refused to be deterred or discouraged. Following her treatment in the UK, Malala spoke at the UN. On the day she gave her speech, she spoke with wisdom and passion when she reflected on the shooting:
“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
Malala and her family were able to settle in the UK and Malala attended high school before winning a place at the prestigious University of Oxford to study Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. She has written memoirs, been the subject of numerous documentaries, and continues to campaign for education rights. In 2013 she founded the Malala Foundation with her father; the fund continues to support education programs for girls around the world.
“One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”
“I don’t want to be remembered as the girl who got shot. I want to be remembered as the girl who stood up.”
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
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