March 8, 2022 by By Cathy Stack
Malala’s father, a passionate advocate for education who ran a girls’ school in their village, set out to provide his daughter with as many opportunities as possible. Malala showed a thirst for knowledge at an early age, and she loved everything about school. The family enjoyed a peaceful life in the Swat Valley, a tourist destination known for its beautiful scenery and summer festivals.
When the Taliban took control of the family’s town in 2008, their lives changed dramatically. Suddenly, the freedoms they enjoyed disappeared, and extremists prohibited girls from attending school. The Taliban also banned girls from participating in cultural activities like listening to music, dancing and watching television. Those who defied the repressive policies faced harsh punishment.
Malala, at the young age of 11, stood up to the oppressive regime and publicly spoke out in for girls’ right to education. She started to blog on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) under the pseudonym Gul Makai. In her posts, she described the terror and oppression she and her friends endured under Taliban rule.
“How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” she declared in a widely broadcasted Pakistan press club. Due to her television appearances, her identity as BBC’s blogger was exposed. Young Malala was suddenly a threat to the Taliban, and she became a target.
One day in October 2012, as Malala cheerfully chatted with classmates, masked gunmen boarded her school bus. “Who is Malala?” one of the gunmen demanded of the terrified girls. The girls’ nervous glances identified her, and the gunman fired a shot that hit the left side of Malala’s head and traveled down her neck.
The Taliban had hoped to silence her, but Malala’s voice only grew louder.
Malala awoke 10 days after the shooting in a hospital in England. The nurses told her what had happened and shared that people around the world prayed for her. She endured months of surgeries and rehabilitation. In time, she made a remarkable recovery. After her release from the hospital, she joined her family in their new home in the U.K.
Once home and safe with family, she had time to reflect and choose her future. She knew she could lead a quiet life and forget about the horrors of the past, but another option appealed more to her defiant spirit. She chose to continue her fight for girls’ right to education.
Malala and her father established the Malala Fund, a charity dedicated to providing a future for girls. She has since become a leading advocate for girls’ rights. Malala received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 in recognition for her mission, becoming the award’s youngest laureate.
In 2018, Malala continued her education, studying philosophy, politics and economics at the prestigious University of Oxford. She graduated in 2020. Malala said she treasured her time at university, and she took nothing for granted – from lectures to late night dorm room chats with friends.
Staggering statistics show that more than 130 million girls currently do not attend school, and Malala’s mission continues. She travels the world on speaking engagements, spreading her powerful message on behalf of girls worldwide. She has spoken at the United Nations and the World Bank. The world now hears her strong voice and knows her story of courage under fire.
PassIton and Foundation For A Better Life believe that Malala is a true hero. Her actions exemplify the value of courage. She has become a worldwide symbol of hope for girls globally as she speaks up for their right to education and freedom. She hopes to create a world where all girls can learn and lead. Please help us honor Malala on thiis International Women's Day by sharing her inspiring story.
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