Malala Yousufzai’s journey has been nothing short of perseverance and bravery. But unfortunately, a fragment of our society thinks otherwise, hence we take a deep dive into how her life changed on 9th October 2012.
9th October 2012, the Taliban brutally attacked a 15-year-old schoolgirl in a bus on her way back home from school, supposedly a child’s safe haven, in the village of Swat valley, Mingora. Facing several death threats in the past, the young girl was still resolute in advocating for girl’s education and her fight to be able to study and wanting the same for her friends. That little girl named Malala – the bravest girl in the world was shot in her head.
The Fight for Her Life
She fought for her life for 10 days while in coma with her organs at risk of failing, next she spent about 3 months rehabilitating and recovering from the physical and emotional damage in the UK. The bullet shot, grazed her left eye, skull and brain, severely damaging her facial nerves and breaking her jaw joints. Doctors in Peshawar removed the bullet and extracted a piece from her left temporal skull bone to relieve pressure on the brain because of swelling.
She was airlifted to a Pakistani military hospital and then flown to an intensive care unit in the UK. She miraculously suffered no major brain damage however the left side of her face was paralyzed, and she would go through 9 intensive surgeries over the years to repair and rehabilitate.
Who knew the same little girl would fight for her life yet lead on to becoming the youngest Nobel laurate winner in 2014, meet the USA President Barack Obama, UK’s longest reigning Queen, go on to Oxford, start her own Production Company and sit front row at the Oscars, all while pledging her life to creating the path for girls to be educated. The list of her accolades is vast and growing.
Selfless Pursuit For Others
Some might call it a 21st century fairy tale but sadly, each time she has represented her homeland at a global stage, her own countrymen start trivializing and degrading her entire ordeal as a mere 16-year-old child, her continued efforts for providing girls a right to education and funding the cause, terribly undermining it.
It didn’t stop there for her; people callously joke about easily willing to take a bullet to their head for all the fame and fortune. Can most of us confidently say we would have risen to the occasion and used our inexplicable trauma and life-threatening events to continue to advocate for the cause?
Fearless Beyond Her Years
Her fight for education began way back since before she was shot, which means she was only 10 years young. Her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, an educationist had established and administered the school she attended, Khushal Girls High School and College in Mingora. He always encouraged her to follow his path. Beginning 2007, the Taliban invaded the Swat Valley where they began imposing strict Islamic laws, destroying and shutting down girl’s schools, banning women from society, carrying suicide bombings and terrorizing the population.
September 1, 2008 was when young Malala, an 11 year child gave her first speech at a local press club in Peshawar. Her father had taken her along to protest the school closings. Famously known as: “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education” speech – it made waves across the country.
She also anonymously wrote about 35 entries titled “I am afraid” under the pen name Gul Makai about her daily life under the rule of Taliban for the BBC, Urdu. Meanwhile, the TTP shut down all girls’ schools in Swat and blew up more than 100 of them.
Life After The Viciousness Of 2012
Post a year after her attack, Malala and her father founded the Malala Fund in 2013 to promote the right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education for girls. In 2014, Malala became the youngest Nobel laureate, honored for her work with the Malala Foundation. She used the prize money to open a girl’s school in the village of Shangla in Swat Valley.
Promising her new life to peace, in 2017 she was named as the official UN messenger of peace by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. She also appeared in the highly acclaimed documentary on her life: “He named me Malala.”
Moreover, Malala has authored 2 books: “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up,” in 2013 detailing her experience of being shot by the Taliban due to her standing up for educational rights and In 2017, she wrote a heartwarming children’s book titled “Malala’s Magic Pencil.“
She has gone from helping the war-ridden refugees of Syria, to campaigning for more than 200 hundred Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped, to advocating for girls in Ethiopia to stay in school and tirelessly working for the girls in her country, she still strives on.
Pledge To Her Homeland
Till date, the Malala Fund has invested $9.6 Million in Pakistan through various local organizations and government initiatives. She has also recently allocated $700,000 (PKR 154 million) towards flood relief activities through her fund. Calling onto the global community to donate and increase aid to Pakistan’s flood impacted community.
She revealed that the fund is further currently working with federal and provincial governments to reform 13,000 government girl’s high schools to include science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics STEAM teachers and a state-of-the-art environment.
Furthermore, Malala Fund is prominently active in Pakistan contrary to popular belief, she is supporting 11 education empowering leaders working tirelessly for the education of girls in our country. They are termed as education champions, working in different sectors and in capacity to campaign for girl’s education. The Malala grant then helps them campaign, fund their activities to bring policy changes and reforms in the education system.
Not A Stranger To The Oscars
Malala has further announced a partnership between her production company, extracurricular and Apple TV to produce women and children-centric content. Inspired by her love of television she wants to show young girls can accomplish anything.
The short documentary “Stranger at the Gate” was nominated at the Oscars for which she was executive producer. She attended the 2023 Oscars with her husband Asser Malik. When talking about the short film she said, “It is such a powerful message about the power of compassion and kindness and forgiveness.”
Regardless of your opinion on Malala, there’s no denying her fearless grit and work in advocating for girl’s education rights. A true source of inspiration in a world so consumed by selfish power-driven agendas, continuing to make the world a better, safer and empowered place for females. Very few can attest to being so fearless so young, so determined so young.