Malala Yousafzai is only 16, but she has been fighting for girls’ education for years. When she was 11, she started blogging about the Taliban takeover of her hometown of Mingora, in northwestern Pakistan. Taliban members follow an extreme version of Islam. They believe girls should not go to school.
For several months, Malala’s school and hundreds of others in the district of Swat were closed. Malala spoke publicly about her desire to go to school. “All I want is an education,” she told one television broadcaster.
When the Pakistani government regained control, Malala was able to return to class. But she continued to speak out about girls’ right to education. On October 9, 2012, the Taliban tried to silence her. A gunman boarded her school bus and shot her on the left side of her forehead. But Malala survived, showing great courage and optimism during her long recovery. During this time, Malala became a symbol of the struggle for girls’ rights all over the world.
This year, Malala became the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She also released her memoir, I Am Malala, which tells the story of her life before and after the gunshot that nearly killed her. Her book inspired a course at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. The curriculum focuses on political activism and the importance of education for girls. "It will encourage students to get engaged in the communities and to help the Malala Fund directly," said Mary Ellsberg, director of the university's Global Women's Institute.
Malala is now a student in Birmingham, England. She continues to give a voice to the millions of children around the world who do not have the opportunity to go to school.
For courageously standing up for girls’ right to education and giving a voice to the voiceless, Malala Yousafzai is a nominee for TFK’s 2013 Person of the Year.
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