Malala Yousafzai | Human rights activist
* 12 July 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan
Malala chose to stand up and risked her life in doing so. At the age of eleven, she started a blog published by the British broadcaster, the BBC, using a pseudonym. The blog transformed her into a figurehead, representing the struggle of young girls and their right to education.
By 2007, the Taliban had seized control of Malala’s homeland, the Swat Valley in Pakistan. They started killing Pakistanis who opposed them and destroying girls‘ schools. In 2009, a BBC reporter and friend of Malala’s father thought it would be a good idea for a schoolgirl to report on the situation. Malala had the courage to write about her feelings and experiences. For ten weeks she told the world about her day-to-day life as well as the oppression experienced in life under the Taliban. She described the suicide attacks, fear and sadness, and in particular talked about girls who were no longer allowed to go to school. She wrote about the ban on listening to music and dancing. In a very short space of time, the blog made Malala famous around the world.
When the Pakistani army drove the Taliban back, Malala gave up her anonymity, appeared on TV shows and did interviews about women’s education. She was one of the few people who dared to go public and in 2011 she was awarded the Pakistan Peace Prize for her dedication.
Malala was a thorn in the side of the Taliban. In October 2012, several Taliban fighters attacked Malala’s school bus and shot her in the head. Seriously injured, Malala was in a coma for weeks. Her family fled with her to Britain, where she still lives today.
Less than a year after the attack, Malala gave a speech at the United Nations in New York on her 16th birthday: „The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.“
To this day through her foundation, Malala continues to promote education as the most powerful weapon against poverty and inequality. In recognition of her incredible courage and commitment, Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 and is now a UN peace ambassador.