Malala and her dream for a better world

Malala and her dream for a better world

A lot of people, including politicians and all kind of public figures, have spoken about the relevance of a good education during the childhood. It doesn’t matter where you come from, where you live, what gender you are, what kind of religion you profess or what kind of ideas you have for your future. A good education is a fundamental aspect for the development of an individual. It is truly remarkable that one of the greatest pro-education activist of all times is a seventeen years old girl from Pakistan.

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Yousafzai’s advocacy has since grown into an international movement.

Yousafzai was into a Sunni Muslim family of Pashtun ethnicity. She was given her first name Malala (meaning “grief stricken” after Malalai of Maiwand, a famous Pashtun poet and warrior woman from southern Afghanistan. Her last name, Yousafzai, is that of a large Pashtun tribal confederation that is predominant in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where she grew up. At her house in Mingora, she lived with her two younger brothers, her parents, and two pet chickens

In early 2009, at the age of 11–12, Yousafzai wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban rule, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls. The following summer, a New York Times documentary was filmed about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region, culminating in the Second Battle of Swat. Yousafzai rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.

On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus. In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK for intensive rehabilitation. On October 12, 2012, a group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwa against those who tried to kill her, but the Taliban reiterated its intent to kill Yousafzai and her father.

In the April 29, 2013, issue of Time magazine, Yousafzai was featured on the magazine’s front cover and as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and is currently nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. On 12 July 2013, Yousafzai spoke at the UN to call for worldwide access to education, and in September 2013 she officially opened the Library of Birmingham.

On 10 October 2014, Yousafzai was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Having received the prize at the age of 17, Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel laureate.  Yousafzai shared the prize with Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist from India.[117] She is the second Pakistani to receive a Nobel Prize, Abdus Salam being a 1979 Physics laureate, and the only Pakistani winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Image courtesy of USAID U.S. Agency for International Development at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of USAID U.S. Agency for International Development at Flickr.com


on September 4, 2015 a documentary about her life was released in the U.S. He Named Me Malala. The film also recounts how she miraculously survived and has become even more eloquent in her quest after being hunted down and shot by a Taliban gunman as part of the organization’s violent opposition to girls’ education in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. The title refers to the Afghani folk hero Malalai of Maiwand, after whom her father named her. At the heart of Malala’s film, and her work, is the message that every child should have access to a good quality education. She wants to “make this movie a movement” and have the world engage. In her eyes, the movie and its associated campaign are a call to action for students, policy-makers, and activists at the grassroots level.

There is much work to be done. Approximately 124 million children are not in school. Children are denied an education on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disabilities. Other children cannot access education because they work to help support their families. Geographical distance and financial barriers, such as school fees and materials, also limit access to education.

Girls face also challenges due to early marriage, pregnancy, lack of accommodation for menstrual hygiene, and cultural beliefs. Natural disasters, health crises, and armed conflict also have a significant effect on children’s education. The military use of schools and attacks on schools place children in danger and prevent them from attending school.

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