Malala Yousafzai

In 2007, the region Malala was living in began to be under control by the Taliban. Under their dominance, girls were banned from attending school. At only 11 years old, Malala wrote her first BBC diary entry, describing her nightmares about being afraid to go to school because of the Taliban.

Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011, the same year that she was also awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.

Yet, her strength and bravery also led to her being shot by the Taliban on October 9, 2012. Fortunately, she had suffered no major brain damage, and in March 2013, after weeks of treatment and therapy, Malala was able to begin attending school in Birmingham.

On July 12, 2013, her 16th birthday, Malala visited New York and spoke at the United Nations. Later that year, she published her first book, an autobiography entitled “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.” In acknowledgement of her work, the European Parliament awarded Malala the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

In 2014, through the Malala Fund, the organization she co-founded with her father, Malala traveled to Jordan to meet Syrian refugees, to Kenya to meet young female students, and finally to northern Nigeria for her 17th birthday. In October of that same year, Malala, along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, was named a Nobel Peace Prize winner. At age 17, she became the youngest person to receive this prize.

Malala Yousafzai remains an advocate for the power of education and for girls to become agents of change in their communities. Today, the Malala Fund has become an organization that, through education, empowers girls to achieve their potential and become confident and strong leaders in their own countries.

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