Friday, June 12, 2015

Yousafzai, Malala (July 12, 1997– )
         Ms. Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education, is the youngest recipient (at age 17) of the Nobel Peace Prize. She has devoted her life to human rights advocacy for education, particularly for girls and women.

         In early 2009 at age 11, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC describing her life under Taliban occupation. In her native province of northwest Pakistan the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. When the Pakistani military intervened in the region, she began to grant interviews in print and on television. She emphasized, "When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful." She was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.
         On October 9, 2012, a lone Taliban gunman boarded her school bus and attacked Yousafzai. A bullet hit the left side of her forehead and eventually lodged in her shoulder. During her recovery, the Taliban repeated their intent to kill Yousafzai and her father, an educator. She later stated, "I believe the gun has no power at all." The assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Yousafzai, and led to the ratification of Pakistan's first Right to Education Bill.
         "I don't know why", she shared, "people have divided the whole world into two groups, west and east. Education is neither eastern nor western. Education is education and it's the right of every human being." On her 18th birthday, Yousafzai opened a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The school offers education and training to girls aged 14 to 18. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement. In recognition of her courageous ongoing actions against suppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to education, she has received innumerable awards.
         "The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born." –Malala Yousafzai