Malala Yozufzai is no ordinary 21 year old. Born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan, Malala became a symbol of resistance against the Taliban oppression in 2012. The then 15-year-old was shot twice in the head and neck by extremists. Her crime? She and her father were at the forefront of a revolution to advocate education for girls in Pakistan. Her rebellion didn’t go down well with the hardliners in the region who were keen on shutting down schools as part of the Sharia agenda. Miraculously, the girl survived to tell the tale to the world. And in 2014, Malala Yozufzai became the youngest recipient of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Her birthday is celebrated as Malala Day around the world. On Malala’s 21st birthday today, here are some astounding facts about her. Malala Yousafzai’s #10YearChallenge Is Soul-Stirring, Recalls Horrific Struggle From Last Day in Swat Valley to Her First Day at Oxford.
- Malala blogged for BBC under the pseudonym Gul Makai when she was only 11 years old. She spoke about how it was to be a girl under the Taliban regime in her blog Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl.
- Her name Malala in Pashto means “grief stricken.” She was named after Afghani warrior poet Malalai of Maiwand.
- She gave her first speech in 2008 to voice her opinion against shutting down of schools. She named it “How Dare the Taliban Take Away my Basic Right to Education?”
- In 2009, New York Times and Alan B Ellick made a documentary film Class Dismissed with Malala as the subject.
- Malala was awarded the first peace prize on November 24, 2011, by the Pakistani government.
- Two other girls were injured along with Malala when she was shot on October 9, 2012 — Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan.
- Malala was named one of Time’s Most Influential People of the Year in April 2013.
- She has received around 40 awards, one of which is the Grammy Award. Malala won the coveted music award for I am Malala, an audio version of her book of the same name.
- Nawaz Sharif, former Pakistani Prime Minister, once called Malala the “Pride of Pakistan.” UN General Secretary General Ban Ki-moon referred to her as a “brave and gentle advocate of peace.”
- Although she is widely adulated in the world, many in Pakistan hate Malala. Some accuse her of making Pakistan look bad, others think the story of the attack was concocted to make her look like a victim.
- The 21-year-old is now studying philosophy, politics and economics at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Malala Yosufzai is an unlikely warrior, one with a book in her hand rather than a sword. Yet she managed to strike fear in those who wield guns. The Nobel prize winner is an inspiration to millions of young girls and boys for her fearlessness and determination. Here’s to her indomitable spirit and her resilience.