This past week 17-year-old education activist Malala Yousafzai became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
A native of the Swat Valley region in northwest Pakistan, Yousafzai grew up in an area where the Taliban regularly forbids girls to attend school. In response to the oppressive environment, in 2009, at age 11, she began blogging for the BBC under an alias. In her blogs, she wrote about life under the Taliban regime and advocated for education rights for women in the region and throughout the world. Her blogs gained international attention, and, soon, Yousafzai became the feature of documentaries, press interviews and news stories.
On the morning of October 9, 2012, shortly after Yousafzai climbed on her school bus, a gunman boarded the bus and asked for Yousifazi by name. He shot her three times, including once in the forehead. Yousafzai survived the attack but remained in critical condition for some time before being sent to England for rehabilitation.
After learning of her survival, the Taliban restated its intent to kill Yousafzai, but it didn’t stop her from continuing to advocate for women’s education. In 2013, Yousifazi spoke to the United Nations and became the inspiration for a U.N. petition that demanded children worldwide have access to education by 2015. The petition eventually led to the passing of Pakistan’s first bill for education rights.
Last Friday, on October 10, 2014, two years and a day after being shot on her way to school, Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle and tireless work advocating children’s and women’s rights to education. At only 17-years-old she is the youngest recipient of the award and the only Pakistani to ever receive it.
Props to you, Malala, for your courage and fearlessness, for your unwavering conviction to speak out for what is right in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity, and for being such a positive light in the world.
You deserve all of the support you’re receiving, and I’m so excited to continue watching your journey as you dare to make a difference in the world.
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