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Malala Yousafzai: The Youngest Nobel Laureate and Survivor of Being Shot by the Taliban

Updated on October 13, 2018
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Readmikenow enjoys writing about unique and interesting people. He likes to learn about individuals who live or have lived unusual lives.

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a woman from Pakistan who is known for being an activist on behalf of young girls getting an education. She spoke for educating women and children in her native country of Pakistan. She is the youngest recipient of a Nobel Prize. Yousafzai is from the Swat Valley in Khyber located in northwest Pakistan. There was a time when the Taliban controlled the area and forbid girls who lived there from attending school. Yousafzai's work to advocate women and children having a right to go to school grew from local efforts into an international movement. After one of her speeches, the Prime Minister of Pakistan declared Malala Yousafzai as the most prominent citizen in the country.

Malala Yousafzai with her family
Malala Yousafzai with her family

Early Life

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. Her hometown was a very popular tourist location. People from all over the country went there for the summer festivals that took place. It was a very happy town. The area changed dramatically when the Taliban began fighting to control Mingora.

Malala Yousafzai at 11 years old
Malala Yousafzai at 11 years old

Girls' Schools Attacked

Ziauddin was Malala's father and founded a school for girls. This is where Malala Yousafzai attended school. It is also an area that began being attacked by the Taliban when Malala was young. In September of 2008, Yousafzai made a speech at Peshawar in Pakistan. The subject of her speech was how the Taliban dared to take away her basic right to education. She was 11 years old. Yousafzai started blogging for the BBC in 2009 when she was 12 years old. She used the pen name Gul Makai to protect her from retribution by the Taliban. Her blogs detailed life with the Taliban constantly threatening to deny an education to her and all the girls where she lived.

Public Platform

Between the blog and speaking publicly, Yousafzai was getting a lot of public attention. She continued to speak about the right of her and all women to attend school. Yousafzai’s public activism impressed people around the world. In 2011, Yousafzai was given the National Youth Peace Prize of Pakistan. She was also nominated for an International Children's Peace Prize. During the summer of 2012, a New York Times documentary about Yousafzai's life was done by journalist Adam B. Ellick. During this time, the Pakistani military began intervening against the Taliban and it appeared things would get better.

Taliban Attack

Early in 2012, Malala Yousafzai was 15 years old. Her family was informed the Taliban did not like her activism. They had issued a death threat again her. Malala's father was an anti-Taliban activist. She and her family worried about the safety of their father. None of them believed the Taliban would be so evil as to harm a young girl. It was October of that year when Malala Yousafzai was riding on a bus. She was surrounded by friends and they were all on their way home from school. The bus suddenly stopped and a man wearing a mask and carrying a rifle boarded the bus. He screamed for one of the children to tell him which of them was Malala. A friend looked at her and the gunman knew it was Malala. He fired his rifle hitting her in the left side of the head. Bullets also went down her neck. Other girls on the bus were also injured.

Malala Yousafzai after being shot by Taliban
Malala Yousafzai after being shot by Taliban

Critical Condition

After the shooting, Malala was in critical condition. She was flown to Peshawar to be treated at a military hospital. There was significant swelling in her brain and part of her skull was removed to treat it. She needed more care than the military hospital could provide. Malala Yousafzai was taken to Germany for treatment and then Birmingham, England. Once there, she was placed in a medically induced coma. Recovering from the shooting would require her to have many surgeries. Malala would need to have a specific surgery to fix her facial nerve. This was done on the left side of her face to eliminate the paralysis. The good news was that she had not experienced any brain damage. Support for Malala Yousafzai around the world was massive. It continued during the entire time she was recovering from her attack.

Malala Yousafzai speaking at United Nations
Malala Yousafzai speaking at United Nations

Speaking Around This World

In July 2013, Malala Yousafzai gave a speech to the United Nations. During the same year, she was able to go to Buckingham Palace and have an audience with Queen Elizabeth II. She was invited to give a speech at Harvard University. While in the United States, Yousafzai did meet with American President Barack Obama and his family. She was also able to speak at the Oxford Union and the Girl Summit in London. In 2014, Yousafzai announced a $50,000 donation would be made to help construct over 64 schools in Gaza.

Malala Yousafzai with Nobel Peace Prize
Malala Yousafzai with Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel Peace Prize

Malala Yousafzai was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on October 10, 2014. It was given to Yousafzai for her work to end the suppression of children and young people and advocating the right of all children to receive an education. Malala Yousafzai was 17 years old when she was awarded a Nobel prize. This made her the youngest person ever to be a Nobel laureate. Kailash Satyarthi from India also was given a Nobel Peace Prize for her work concerning children's rights.

Malala Fund

This is an official organization led by Malala Yousafzai. Its goal is to help girls around the world claim their right to have an education. The Malala fund works with partners that are local as well as international. In July 2015, the Malala fund was able to pay for a school to open for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon. The school is able to accommodate 200 girls.

Malala Yousafzai speaking to people after returning to Pakistan
Malala Yousafzai speaking to people after returning to Pakistan

Return To Pakistan

Many in Pakistan believe Malala Yousafzai is an agent of the west. They resent her Oxford education, residence in Britain, as well as winning a Nobel prize. Some people say her views are against Pakistan as well as Islam. During March of 2018, Malala Yousafzai returned to Pakistan for the first time since being shot. She was able to meet with Pakistan's Prime Minister and was able to give a speech. Yousafzai stated during her speech it had been her dream to return to her home without fear. She then visited Migora where she had been born and raised.

The story of Malala Yousafzai is inspiring. Her memoir “I Am Mala: This Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban” was published in 2013. A documentary about her life called “He Named Me Malala” was released in 2015. She continues to speak out for the education of girls. Malala Yousafzai now has a birthday tradition. On her birthday, she meets with girls who are struggling to get an education so their voices can be heard. She hopes to keep doing this tradition as long as possible.

Malala Yousafzai Biography


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    • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR


      4 months ago

      Neetu M, thank you for your response. I agree with you.

    • wordswithlove profile image

      Neetu M 

      4 months ago from USA

      I know Malala's story, Mike, and you have done well to post a hub about her. She represents the many young women who thirst for an education and an opportunity to contribute to society. I met a young Afghan woman recently on a flight back from the East, and one who had courageously kept her education on track even though her university in Kabul had been targeted by terrorists and women students had been shot. She lost some friends in the shooting, and while that saddened her deeply, it served to further embolden herself in the face of such barbarism to continue to work hard and return to the same campus when classes resumed. It is the courage of such young women that keeps that hope alive that change is still possible.

    • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR


      4 months ago

      Peggy Woods, thanks. I was impressed by such courage as a young age.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Malala is certainly a young woman who is effecting change in the world regarding the education of girls. May it long continue!

    • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR


      4 months ago

      Liz, Thanks, I found this story fascinating.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 months ago from UK

      This is a very interesting article. Like many I was aware of the main facts, but you have added a lot more interesting detail.

    • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR


      4 months ago

      FlourishAnyway, I agree. This is a girl with quite a bit of courage and determination.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 months ago from USA

      It’s sad that with all she has been through that locals would question her motives and see her as not one of them. She’s been through so much yet champions change for others.


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