Malala - the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Malala Yousafzai, born on July 12, 1997, is only 18, but she has been fighting for girls‘ education for years. She has two younger brothers. Her father ran a local school and education has always been important to the family.
When she was 11, she started blogging about the Taliban takeover of her hometown in northwestern
Pakistan using the pseudonym of a heroine in a folk tale. Taliban members follow an extreme version of their religion. They believe girls should not go to school. So they banned education for women and destroyed hundreds of schools in the district. One of them was Malala‘s.
Malala spoke about her desire to go to school and wrote in her blog about her experience as a girl going to school under the Taliban. She also wrote about the fear she and the other girls at school felt, about
the classroom that became emptier as frightened girls stayed away from school, and how girls no longer wore school uniforms because they did not want to attract the attention of the Taliban. But Malala‘s blogger identity did not remain secret. Radio and TV station broadcast documentaries about her and her fight for girl‘s education.
She became well-known for her views on education. On October 9, 2012, the Taliban tried to silence
her. Some gunmen boarded her school bus and asked for Malala. No one answered, but the frightened girl‘s looks told them who Malala was. One of them shot her on the left side of her forehead. Malala survived. She was flown to the UK for treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. During her long recovery she showed great courage and optimism and became a symbol of the struggle for girl‘s right all over the world.
News of the taliban‘s attack on Malala spread around the world, and she and her campaign for girl‘s education became internationally famous. She has used her fame to carry on speaking out for her cause$^1$. On her 16th birthday, she even spoke to the General Assembly of the UN in New York: „The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens. They are afraid of women. Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.“ The UN made July 12 Malala Day to support the campaign for the right of
children to get an education.
In that year, she also released her book I am Malala, which tells the story of her life before and after the gunshot that nealry killed her. Her book even inspired a course about the importance of education for girls at an American university.
But the greatest event happened on December 10, 2014, when Malala got the Nobel Peace Prize and became
the youngest winner of this award. She shares it with the Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi, who also campaigns for children‘s rights. Malala is now a student in Birmingham, England. She continues to give a voice to the millions of children around the world who do not have the opportunity to go to school.
Adapted from: ‘Read On‘ (12/2014), Eilers & Schünnemann Verlag KG, Bremen
$^1$ cause - Anliegen, Sache