New Delhi, July 12: She was born in a society where the birth of a baby girl is not always celebrated, but her father was determined to shun age-old beliefs and did not believe in gender discrimination. Malala Yousafzai, who became symbol of women’s rights and stood up promotion of women’s education, was born in Mingora, Pakistan on July 12, 1997.
When she was around 11, Taliban took control of Swat valley, and that was when her life changed. Taliban regime imposed draconian diktats in the areas they rule which included discouraging people from sending their daughters to schools. She remained undeterred. Not only did she continue going to school but also advocated women’s rights in education.
She was also critical of the Taliban menace in the region that has for decades been against women’s education. In October 2012, Malala was attacked by Taliban gunmen and was in a critical condition. Soon after, she was sent to the United Kingdom to recover. She and two other girls were shot by a Taliban gunman in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism.
“In October 2012, on my way home from school, a masked gunman boarded my school bus and asked, “Who is Malala?” He shot me on the left side of my head. I woke up 10 days later in a hospital in Birmingham, England. The doctors and nurses told me about the attack – and that people around the world were praying for my recovery,” this is how she describes the shocking incident which shook the world and people began taking notice of the plight of women under Taliban rule. (Malala’s quote credit – www.malala.org).
Following her recovery, Yousafzai became a prominent activist for the right to education. Based in Birmingham, she founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit organisation, and in 2013 co-authored book ‘I Am Malala’. In 2012, she was the recipient of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In 2014, she was the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi of India.
On July 12, 2013, Malala Yousafzai delivered an impassioned speech at the United Nations (UN) headquarters on the need for gender equality in education. The address saw several rounds of standing ovations for the teenager and the day, July 12, which is also her birthday, was soon declared by the UN as Malala Day in honour of the young activist.