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You might have heard the name of Malala Yousafzai, but not everyone knows the story behind her which makes her an inspiration to many women in the world. One of the interesting facts about Malala Yousafzai is at the age of eleven she started to advocate for the rights of women.

Malala Yousafzai biography

She is recognized as a young activist who was involved in delivering a powerful speech at the United Nations Youth Assembly, and she was honored with Noble Peace Prize

Even after going through many struggles in life under the Taliban, she never gave up. Let us discuss some of the Interesting facts about Malala Yousafzai including who is Malala Yousafzai, the Malala Yousafzai story, and why she is celebrated. 

Facts about Malala Yousafzai childhood

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12th, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan, which is a large city in the Swat Valley of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. For the first few years of Malala’s life,  the hometown remained a popular tourist spot and it was known for the summer festivals. 

She was born and brought up in a lower-middle-class family. During her birth, the family had not enough money for a hospital birth. So she was born at home with the help of neighbors.

She was named Malala which means the Grief-Stricken. It was named after Malalai of Maiwand who was a famous Pashtun poet and warrior woman from Southern Afghanistan. 

She was born as the first of three children to Ziauddin and Tor Pekai Yousafzai and lived with her two younger brothers and parents at her house in Mingora.

The influence of her father

Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai was a teacher and education advocate who ran a girls’ school in the village. In Pakistan, it was not always an easy thing to raise a girl child.  But her father was very sure that she should receive all the same opportunities that are offered to a boy child.

It was because her father, Malala Yousafzai from a very young age was passionate about gaining knowledge. She was raised to believe in her voice. Even before she was able to speak, she would go to her father’s classes. 

She loved going to school to study. She attended the Khushaal Public School, which was previously run by her father. 

The control of the Taliban

When she was 10 years old, the Swat Valley was taken under the control of the Taliban extremist and banned many things in the city.  They began to impose strict laws on the girls, and Malala’s usual favorite things were also banned. 

The girls were no longer able to attend school, watch TV, play music, and dance. Taliban specifically targeted the education of girls and by the end of 2008, they were able to destroy around 400 schools. 

Due to the increase in violence, deaths of politicians, creatives, and soldiers, along with the destruction of schools, life became hard in Swat Valley

Speech against Taliban

Malala Yousafzai

On September 1st, 2008, her father took Malala to a local Press Club in Peshawar to protest the closing of schools. Malala Yousafzai was brave enough to give her first speech against the Taliban under the title of “How Dare the Taliban to take away my basic right to education?”

Throughout Pakistan, the speech was publicized. 

She became an anonymous BBC blogger

One of the interesting facts about Malala Yousafzai is that she became an anonymous BBC Blogger. 

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) approached Malala Yousafzai’s father in search of someone who might blog for them, on what it is like to live under the rule of the Taliban. 

She under the name of Gul Makai, began to write regular entries for BBC Urdu about her life under Taliban rule. Her first BBC entry was entitled “I am Afraid”. There she detailed her nightmares. 

It was on 3 January 2009, that she posted an entry to the BBC Urdu Blog. She wrote the notes and passed them to a reporter for safety. The report scanned the notes and emailed them.

From January through the beginning of March she continued writing  35 entries that were translated into English. 

In December she was revealed to be the BBC blogger.

They fled to a nearby place

When Malala Yousafzai is eleven years old, her family fled their home to nearby Shangla, Pakistan due to the rising tensions between the Taliban and Pakistan. 

She won the Peace Prize

The violence, pressure, and tension in the city,  did not stop Yousafzai from advocating the right to attend school.  She and her father began speaking in the media on behalf of the girls’ education.  They campaigned for access to free quality education for girls in Pakistan. 

By 2011, Malala Yousafzai was nominated for the international children’s peace prize.  Although she did not win, she earned Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize in the same year. This makes it one of the interesting facts of Malala Yousafzai to have gained the prize at a young age. 

The death threat against her

Yousafzai and her family learned that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her because of her involvement in activism.  The death threats were published in newspapers and slipped under her door. She received them on Facebook too.

She was frightened for the safety of her father because she had her family felt that the group would not harm a child. 

She was shot by the Taliban

On October 9th, 2012,  the 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was going on the bus with her friends on their way home from school. Suddenly a masked gunman got into the bus and demanded to know who is Malala.  Her friends looked toward her and so she was identified. 

She was fired by the gunman, and the left side of her head got hit while the bullet traveled down her neck.  In the attack, two other girls were also injured.  The gunshot left Yousafzai in a critical condition and she was taken to a  military Hospital in Peshawar.  To treat her swelling brain,  a portion of her skull was removed.  Later she was transferred to Birmingham, England. 

When she was in the United Kingdom,  she was taken out of a medically-induced coma.  After 10 days, she woke up.  She had suffered no major brain damage but the left side of her face was paralyzed and to fix it,  multiple surgeries were required that included the repair of a facial nerve. 

A massive outpouring of support was given to Yousafzai that continued during her recovery.  After months of medical treatment, she returned to her family living in Birmingham.  In March 2013,  she began attending school in Birmingham. 

The comeback of Malala Yousafzai stunned the world

Just 10 months into her recovery,  the world was stunned once again when Malala Yousafzai appeared before the United Nations youth assembly to deliver an inspiring speech.  It was on her 16th birthday. And she highlighted her focus on education and the rights of women.

She said that the Taliban thought that the bullets would silence them, but they failed because out of the silence, thousands of voices were raised.  She requested the government to introduce free and compulsory education to ensure a brighter future for children worldwide.

The publication of her autobiography

Malala Yousafzai and Barack Obama

That same year,  she published her autobiography entitled, ” “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.” This book tells her story in five parts. 

The European Parliament awarded her the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for her activism. 

She received the Noble Peace prize

On December 10th, 2014, Thorbjorn Jagland, then-chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee called upon Malala to deliver a famous  Nobel lecture at the Oslo City Hall in Norway before the audience. Her speech challenged the government and individuals to reconsider their responsibility the protect the right of every girl to an education.  

That year she won the Nobel Peace Prize and made her way to the podium receiving a standing ovation. 

At the age of 17, She was the youngest person and the first Pakistani to receive the award.

Establishment of the Malala Fund 

In 2014, Malala Yousafzai with her father established the Malala Fund to support internationally an advocate for girls and women.  She met a Syrian refugee in Jordan,  young women students in Kenya,  and she spoke out in Nigeria against the terrorist group Boko Haram that abducted the young girls to stop them from going to school. 

She continues to advocate for the rights of women and girls,  and the fund advocates for quality education by funding education projects, pioneering  Innovative strategies to empower young girls, and partnering with global leaders and local advocates. 

Actress Angelina Jolie was the first person to contribute to the organization. Her donation was $200,000 to fund the education of girls from the Swat District.

For her 18th birthday,  in July 2015,  she continued to take action on global education by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon.  The expenses for covered by the fund.  And the school was designed to admit nearly 200 girls from the ages of 14 to 18. 

The awards she received 

Malala Yousafzai receiving the award

In April 2017, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Malala Yousafzai as a U.N. Messenger of Peace to promote the education of girls. This appointment is the highest honor given by the United Nations for an initial period of two years.

As Messenger of Peace, she continues to deliver speeches about education for all and providing equal basic human rights. She states that education is a right for all and should not be neglected. 

She was also given honorary Canadian citizenship in the same year and became the sixth person and the youngest in the country’s history to receive the honor. She is the youngest person to address the House of Commons of Canada.

To date, for her bravery and activism, she has received over 40 awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate from the University of King’s College in 2014 and a Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album in 2015.

She graduated

She wanted to become a doctor, but her intention changed to politics.

In June 2020, she graduated from Oxford University after having started a degree in, politics, philosophy, and economics in 2017. This perfectly aligned with her will to follow a path toward a political career. 

During her time at Oxford University, Malala Yousafzai joined the Oxford Union, the Oxford Pakistan Society, and the cricket club. She lived a relatively normal college life and stated that she often filled up essays at 11 PM the night before they were due. 

Programming partnership with Apple

On 8 March 2021, Apple announced a programming partnership with Malala Yousafzai

This is to create original content that includes comedies, dramas, documentaries, animated features, and shows for children as an opportunity for the activist to use her ability to inspire people all over the world.

The Malala Day

Interesting facts about Malala Yousafzai

She became a symbol of resistance and a beacon of hope for girls all over the world due to her bravery in humanity. To honor her actions, the United Nations marked a special day as Malala Day, and it was celebrated on the 12th, of July. 

Malala said that it is not her day but for everybody, especially those who have raised their voices for the right of humanity. 

The return to Pakistan

After the attack on Malala, her family permanently relocated to Birmingham, England. On March 29, 2018, she returned to Pakistan for the first time since her brutal 2012 attack. 

She met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and delivered an emotional speech at his office. She said that in the last five years she dreamed of coming back to the country and added that she never wanted to leave. 

During her four-day trip, Yousafzai visited her former home and a military-run cadet college in Mingora.

Final thoughts

From being a normal Pakistani girl to becoming a noble peace prize winner, she had gone through a lot in her journey. 

Malala is an active supporter of education as a fundamental social and economic right. With her voice, through the Malala Fund, she remains a powerful advocate for strong education and for girls to become agents of change in their communities.

She remains an inspiration to every woman and girl in the world.

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