Change maker: Malala Yousafzai

by Francois Pan on May 3, 2015 - 7:39am

With every great story comes an ordinary beginning. And here is the story of Malala.

Malala Yousafzai was born on 12 July 1997 in Swat Valley in Pakistan. In her native town, religious terrorist group Taliban has banned the local girls from attending schools through harassments, menace and targeted attacks. Malala wrote her first diary on education under Taliban’s reign when she was twelve. In her diary, she expresses her craving for education and the vital threat faced by the local girls attending schools. Since then, Malala has written many diaries recording her anxious daily life in Swat and her struggle for girls’ education in Pakistan. Two years after the publication of her journal “Dairy of a Pakistani schoolgirl” on BBC, she was awarded the Pakistan’s National Peace Prize. Her growing recognition soon alerted the Taliban. After numerous unresponded warnings and menace issued by the head of the militant group, Malala was attacked and shot in the head by a Taliban fighter in her school bus. The six days of coma caused by the impact of the bullet did not stop Malala’s pursuit of female education. Shortly after her recovery from the attack, she was invited to UN headquarters in New York where she evokes the global attention on girls’ rights of education. “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world” said Malala during the session. In 2014, Malala became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Regardless of Malala’s young age and disadvantaged social background, her advocacy of women’s rights of education has united people to stand behind a common cause.  The Malala petition where Malala urges UN to further dedicate itself to promote primary education for every child has gathered more than three millions signatures. Also, the Malala Fund rouse by the young Pakistani activist gives support to endangered girls in Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Kenya. Through the efforts of Malala and many educational activists, the public attention has been called upon female education more widely than ever.

In my earlier post on Newsactivist Learning under knives and funfire I explored the issue of the 276 Nigerian girls abducted by the local terrorist group Boko Haram in April 2014. Unfortunately, nearly one year after the incident, most of the abducted girls still remain in captivity though few of them managed their escape. Malala has criticized the relative inaction of Nigerian government and world leaders. “Much more would have been done had these girls come from a more privileged background” wrote Malala on her blog. She also urges the future Nigerian government which will be elected in the upcoming election to make the rescue of the kidnapped girls its priority. The same desire to rescue the schoolgirls has also been expressed by Malala during her last visit to Nigeria. In response to Malala’s critics and initiatives and to the Twitter campaign #BringBackOurGirls the Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan pledges to take actions. However, actions to rescue the abducted Nigerian girls are more likely to be taken after the settlement of the general election in Nigeria which takes place on the 30th March 2015.



Work cited

“Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl” BBC News. BBC News, 19 July 2009. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.

 “Malala Yousafzai Becomes Youngest-ever Nobel Prize Winner” The Tribune. The Tribune, 10 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.

Mark, Monica, and David Smith. “Nigeria Election: Buhari in Front After Half of Results Declared” The Guardian, The Guardian. 31 Mar. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.

Peer, Basharat. “The Girl Who Wanted to Go to School” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 10 Oct. 2012. Web. 31 May 2015.

 “Shot Pakistan Schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai Addresses UN” BBC News. BBC News, 12 July 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.

Tran, Mark. “Malala Yousafzai Criticises ‘Weak’ Effort to Free Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram” The Guardian, The Guardian. 8 Feb. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.


Your post interested me quite a bit as I have done research on Malala Yousafzai and wrote a paper on my view of her actions. Malala is a person who represents the future of our world and understands that women in national politics can become very prevalent in the future with the help of the people living today. Malala has been extremely courageous in taking a stand against those who deny women the right to education and, as you mentioned, has become a strong voice. Malala stated that her situation is not a unique one and because this is true, we must understand that we must start hearing the voices of all those around the world regardless of age, ethnicity, or race. When thinking about your post, I remembered visiting the Yale campus a couple years ago with my older brother and I learned that, in the 1800s, at Yale, women were only permitted to sit in on some classes and they were referred to as the “silent listeners” (I saw this at Maya Lin’s sculpture called “The Women’s Table”). Today, Yale has approximately 50% female students. Malala’s influence has been far-reaching and will continue to be far-reaching as she works towards her goal of equal education between men and women. The world does not belong to males or females, it should be shared. The future world has so much potential but in order for the world to reach its full potential, every human must develop and pursue their education.

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