The UN has designated July 12, which is Yousafzai's birthday, Malala Day in honor of the young woman who has been a prominent activist for female education since her early teens.
As a young girl, Malala Yousafzai was not allowed to go to school. But She refused to stay home and spoke out for educationand was almost killed for standing up for her beliefs. To this day, Malala continues to work to ensure that every girl around the world has the chance to go to school.
Yousafzai was born to a Pashtun Yousafzai family in Mingora, Pakistan. Her family came to run a chain of schools in the region.
Considering Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto as her role models, she was particularly inspired by her father's thoughts and humanitarian work.
On 9 October 2012, while on a bus in the Swat District, after taking an exam, Yousafzai and two other girls were shot by a Taliban gunman in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism; the gunman fled the scene.
Yousafzai was hit in the head with a bullet and remained unconscious and in critical condition at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but her condition later improved enough for her to be transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK. The attempt on her life sparked an international outpouring of support for Yousafzai.
Malala and her family shifted to Birmingham, United Kingdom, after the attack to help her get her medical treatment. Since then her entire family is settled in Birmingham, fearing backlash from radical groups in Pakistan.
In spite of witnessing so much pain and trauma, Malala continued with her crusade and advocated the importance of education for all girls and women.
After Malala delivered an impassioned speech at the United Nations (UN) headquarters on the need for gender equality in education on July 12, 2013, the day has been declared as the World Malala Day by the UN.
Moreover, July 12 is also her birthday, Today, Malala has turned 20. Within a short span of time, the young woman has not only won many awards and accolades, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, but over the years, Malala has become a strong voice for women empowerment across the globe.
Here are the interesting facts about Malala
- At 17 years old, Malala is is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize since its inception in 1901.
- In 2009, Malala started blogging about living under Taliban rule for the BBC. She later became a national figure in her country, appearing on television as a spokesperson for girls' education.
- Malala was aboard a bus in 2012, campaigning for education of girls in Pakistan, when the Taliban reportedly hijacked the bus and singled her out, shooting her in the head and the neck.
- Malala spoke of "the right of education of every child" on July 12th, 2013.
- It was almost two years to the day when Malala was shot that she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She was 17 and the youngest recipient to receive it. She shared the distinguished award with Kailash Satyarthi, another children's rights activist.
- Malala had plans to be a doctor but has now taken an interest in politics.
- Because of the violent assassination attempt on Malala, Pakistan announced the creation of the very first Right to Education Bill.
- To date, Malala has received over 40 awards and honors for her bravery and activism, including an honorary doctorate from the University of King's College in 2014 and a Grammy Award for Best Children's Album (for the audio book I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World) in 2015.
- When Malala turned 18, she opened an all-girls school for Syrian refugees, calling on leaders from around the world to provide "books not bullets."
- In 2015 an asteroid was named in honor of Malala.
- In April 2017 Malala became a UN Messenger of Peace.
Let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution"- Malala Yousafzai.