In 2014, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Malala Yousafzai. She is currently the youngest person ever to receive it. July 12, Malala’s birthday, is “National Malala Day”, but there’s more to her story. On July 12, baby Malala was born. In Pakistan, when a boy was born, it was greatly celebrated. People would bring gifts, they’d have a celebration, and the boy’s name would go on to the family tree. When a girl was born, none of this would happen. Malala was different. Her father put her name on the family tree. Her name was the first girl name ever on it.
In Pakistan, and lots of other places too, many girls do not go to school. They marry at a young age, and cannot get a job. Malala’s father was a teacher, so she was encouraged to go to school. Even from a young age, Malala loved school. Unfortunately, in 2007, the Taliban took over. Girls suddenly were banned from going to school, but that is not all. Girls couldn’t go to the market without grown men that were close relatives. Women also had to wear a burqa, which covered their entire body, if they wanted to go into public. Malala did not like this, so she decided to do something about it.
Malala started speaking out about how girls couldn’t go to school. The Taliban did not like this. They threatened to kill her multiple times. Malala never stopped speaking, and this made the Taliban even more mad. On October 9, 2012, Malala was on her way home from school. Although the trip home was short, her parents felt it was safer to take the bus. Malala and her two friends, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, were talking when a “young bearded man”, as she called him, popped up and said, “ Who is Malala?”
The man shot three bullets. One of the bullets hit Malala in her head. People all around the world prayed for her recovery. After months of surgeries and intensive care, Malala recovered. Many people wondered if she would ever be the same. As Malala said, “They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. 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 was born.”
Malala shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi in 2014. She decided to donate $50,000 to rebuild a school in Gaza. Malala still speaks out, she has written several books, and she started the Malala Fund to help all children get an education. One of her most famous quotes is, “All I want is an education, and I am afraid of no one.”