Today’s Birthday, July 12: Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai ( 1997 – )
Malala Yousafzai was just 15 when the Taliban shot her in the head as she on her way home from school.
The young activist was targeted over her outspoken support for equality and education for Pakistani women.
In his memoirs Let Her Fly – published in November – her father wrote about his determination to raise a feminist daughter.
“I am sure of one thing: patriarchy is sheer stupidity,” Ziadduin Yousafzai said.
“Fathers have a great interest in dismantling it.”
Named after Malalai of Maiwand, a 19th century Afghani poet and warrior, Malala was born on July 12 1997 in the picturesque Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan.
The only daughter of Ziadduin, school owner and educational activist, and Toor Pekai, she was raised in the village of Mingora alongside her two younger brothers.
In 2007, the Taliban occupied the Swat region and imposed strict Islamic law, banning women from public life and bulldozing girls’ schools.
Malala was just 11 years old when she accompanied her father to the local Press Club and gave her first, impassioned speech in support of girls’ education.
“How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education,” she told the crowd.
Already fluent in English, she began writing a blog for the BBC about life for children under Taliban rule.
The increasing violence forced the Yousafzai’s to flee their home in 2009, along with thousands of other families.
Malala would document the experience in her 2013 autobiography – I Am Malala – including her meeting with US special envoy Richard Holbrooke who she pleaded with for America to intervene in the fighting.
Returning home after three months, it wasn’t long before local press identified her as the BBC blogger, culminating in New York Times reporter Adam B Ellick making a documentary about Malala to inspire other young journalists.
But her rising profile also attracted unwanted attention, and death threats appeared in the local paper and slipped under her door.
On October 9 2012 a masked gunman shot Malala in the neck and head, injuring two of her friends, as they rode home in a bus after school exams.
She would wake in a Birmingham Hospital several days later.
Doctor’s explained one of the bullets had entered her skull through the corner of her left eye, leaving her deaf in one ear and paralysed on the left side of her face.
Just nine months into her recovery – on her 16th birthday – a defiant Malala addressed the United Nations’ in New York.
“The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens,” she told the gathering of world leaders.
“They are afraid of women.”
The following year she became the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize – aged 17 – for her fight “for the right of all children to receive an education”.
She released her third book, We are Displaced, about young people’s experiences as refugees, in January.
Malala is currently studying a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University.