A Heroic Return

Women's-education activist Malala Yousafzai goes back to school

March 20, 2013

Malala Yousafzai gets ready for her first day back at school on March 19, just weeks after being released from the hospital.

On March 19, Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani student and women’s-education activist, returned to the classroom on for the first time since being violently attacked by a member of the Taliban on October 9, 2012. Malala was shot on her way home from school in Mingora, Pakistan. The Taliban group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) took responsibility for the attack. The group said the attack should serve as a warning to others. TTP’s members follow a strict version of Islam and believe girls should not go to school. Malala was targeted because she is vocal about girls’ rights to education in Swat Valley, Pakistan.

Malala recovers from the attack at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England.

Malala recovers from the attack at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England.

After a long period of recovery, Malala is starting as a ninth-year student at Edgbaston High School. It is the oldest independent girls school in Birmingham, England. Though she has no concrete plans to return to Pakistan, Malala still speaks out as a voice for change in her country, and everywhere. “I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school. I want all girls in the world to have this basic opportunity,” Malala said in a statement. “I miss my classmates from Pakistan very much but I am looking forward to meeting my teachers and making new friends here in Birmingham.”

Malala’s Journey

Malala has been an Internet blogger, or writer, since she was 11 years old. In 2011 she was awarded Pakistan’s National Peace Award for her bravery in writing about the difficulties of life and education in the shadow of the Taliban. She has spoken publicly about children’s rights and been nominated for an international children’s peace prize.

After the attack in 2012, support for Malala poured in from around the world. The United Nations declared November 10 Malala Day. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the day honors Malala and shows the world that people of all sexes, all backgrounds and all countries stand behind her.

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