“If one man can destroy everything, why can't one girl change it?”
Photo via wikipedia
Malala Yousafzai (b.1997) often referred to mononymously as Malala, is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She speaks on issues affecting women around the world and founded her Malala Fund to invest in education programmes to help girls go to school and reach their full potential.
Via Biography: As a young girl, Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 but survived. Yousafzai became an advocate for girls' education when she herself was still a child, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Yousafzai when she was traveling home from school. She survived and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. In 2013, she gave a speech to the United Nations and published her first book, I Am Malala - highlighting her focus on education and women's rights, urging world leaders to change their policies.
Following the attack, Yousafzai said that “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.”
In 2013, Yousafzai and her father launched the Malala Fund, which works to ensure girls around the world have access to 12 years of free, safe, quality education. The fund prioritizes assistance to its Gulmakai Network — a reference to the pseudonym Yousafzai used when she wrote her BBC blog about life in Pakistan under Taliban rule. These countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, are where most girls miss out on secondary education. For her 18th birthday, in July 2015, Yousafzai continued to take action on global education by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon. Its expenses covered by the Malala Fund, the school was designed to admit nearly 200 girls from the ages of 14 to 18. "Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world's children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets," Yousafzai proclaimed in one of the school's classrooms.
Most recently, Yousafzai graduated from Oxford University in June 2020 with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics.