Malala was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, a town north-west of Pakistan. She loved learning and going to school. In 2009, as the Taliban’s military hold on Swat intensified, Malala began writing a blog for the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym, about fears that her school would be attacked and the increasing military activity in her town. Television and music were banned, women were prevented from going shopping and then Malala’s father was told that his school had to close.
Malala and her father received death threats but continued to speak out for the right to education. Around this time, Malala was featured in a documentary made for The New York Times and was revealed as the author of the BBC blog. In 2011, she received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize. In response to her rising popularity and national recognition, Taliban leaders voted to kill her.
On October 9, 2012, as Malala and her friends were coming home from school, a masked gunman entered their school bus and asked for Malala by name. She was shot with a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder. Malala survived the initial attack, but was in a critical condition. She was moved to Birmingham in the United Kingdom for treatment at a hospital that specializes in military injuries. She was not discharged until January 2013 by which time she had been joined by her family in the UK.
The Taliban’s attempt to kill Malala received worldwide condemnation and led to protests across Pakistan. In the weeks after the attack, over 2 million people signed a right to education petition, and the National Assembly quickly ratified Pakistan’s first Right To Free and Compulsory Education Bill.
Malala became a global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. Malala accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2014 with Kailash Satyarthi. She started the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential, and to demand change.