WHM: Malala Yousafzai

For Women’s History Month, we’ll be sharing weekly blog posts from Lily Lou, one of our student interns. She will be highlighting a notable and inspiring woman in each post.

Malala Yousafzai


Born: July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan

Occupation(s): Activist, Student, Writer

Awesome Quote: “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.”
Why should you know about her? Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for fighting for the right for children, specifically girls, to get an education. She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize. As a 9 year old, she blogged for the BBC under a pseudonym about her experience living in the Taliban-controlled Swat district of northwestern Pakistan. The Taliban opposes education for girls and women, but Malala stood up for her rights and continued going to school despite death threats. She survived an assassination attempt in 2012, and today she still continues to fight for the right to education.

Brief Biography: Malala was born in Pakistan with two younger brothers. Her father, who owned the school that she attended, was active in supporting education rights for women. When Malala was 10, the Taliban took over the Swat Valley and banned girls from going to school. She resisted by giving a speech on television in 2008 titled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” In 2009, she also began blogging for the BBC Urdu to show the world how the Taliban was influencing life in the Swat Valley. She wrote about women’s education, but because blogging about the Taliban was so dangerous, she had to use an alias. In 2011, she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and won Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.

Because of her activism, she received death threats from the Taliban. When she was 15, a masked gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the head. She was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and was later transported to a hospital in Birmingham, England, where she currently lives and attends school. Nearly six months later, she recovered from her injuries and spoke at the United Nations for universal access to education and published an autobiography, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.”

In 2013, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. She continues to speak out on the importance of educating girls. In 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi, an activist against child labor.

She also co-founded the Malala Fund with her father to advocate for girls’ education. As part of the Fund, she traveled to Nigeria to raise awareness about girls that Boko Haram, a terrorist group, kidnapped to prevent going to school.

On her 18th birthday, she opened a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon as part of the Malala Fund. She continues to fight for girls’ right to education today.