is a student from the town of Mingora in Swat District, Khyber
Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan. She is known for her women’s rights activism in the
Swat Valley, where the Taliban regime has banned girls from attending school.
In 2009, at the age of 11, Yousafzai came to prominence through a blog she
wrote for the BBC, detailing her life under the Tehrik-i-Taliban regime, their
attempts to take control of the valley and promoting education for girls. This
confrontation which would later require the Pakistani military to
intervene.Yousafzai has since been nominated for several awards, and has won
Pakistan's first National Peace Prize.
On 9 October 2012,
Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by a
Yousafzai was named
after Malalai of Maiwand, a Pashtun poet and warrior woman.
Early in 2009, Yousafzai
began writing a blog for BBC Urdu under the pseudonym "Gul Makai"
about her experiences as a schoolgirl in the Swat Valley as the Taliban forced
closures of private schools after banning girls’ education.
“I had a terrible dream
yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams
since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast
and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had
issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.
Only 11 students
attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban's edict.
My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their
families after this edict.
On my way from school to
home I heard a man saying 'I will kill you'. I hastened my pace and after a
while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter
relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else
over the phone.
Later that summer,
Yousafzai's hometown of Mingora, the main city in the Swat Valley, was occupied
briefly by the Taliban, leading the Pakistani Army to move in and regain
control of the area. During this time, the Taliban closed down her school, and
Yousafzai's family was displaced and separated. While she was away, she had the
chance to meet with President Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and
Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, with whom she pleaded to intervene in the
situation. Eventually, after the Pakistani military pushed the Taliban out of
the cities in the Swat Valley and into the countryside, she returned to her
home, which had been undamaged, and to her school, which had sustained only
Ziauddin Yousafzai, is a poet, school owner and an educational activist
himself. Ziauddin is said to have referred to his daughter as something
entirely special, permitting her to stay up at night and talk about politics
after her two brothers had been sent to bed.
On 3 January 2009, Yousafzai posted her first anonymous entry to the BBC Urdu blog that would later make her famous. She used the pseudonym "Gul Makai" so as not to be targeted by the Taliban. The idea for the blog was that of her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who ran a local private school and would go on to become a major influence in his daughter's activism.  The blog captures Yousafzai's troubled psychological state during the First Battle of Swat, as the Taliban forced closures of private schools and banned girls’ education.
“ I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.
Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban's edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.
On my way from school to home I heard a man saying 'I will kill you'. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone. "
—Malala Yousafzai, 3 January 2009 BBC blog entry
When Yousafzai‘s BBC
blogging identity was revealed, the international children's advocacy group
KidsRights Foundation included her among the nominees for the International
Children's Peace Prize. She was the first Pakistani girl nominated for the
award, and she was runner-up. In November 2010, Yousafzai was awarded
Pakistan's first National Peace Prize. In December 2010, Prime Minister Yousaf
Raza Gilani named the prize after her. On Malala’s request, the prime minister
directed the authorities to set up an IT campus in the Swat Degree College for
The Government Girls
Secondary School, Mission Road, has been renamed Malala Yousufzai Government
Girls Secondary School in her honour.
Yousafzai has expressed
to the media her intent to form a political party focused on education.
On 9 October 2012, a
Taliban gunman targeted Yousafzai on a bus taking children home from school in
Pakistan’s Swat Valley. He shot her twice - once in the head and once in the
neck. He also wounded two other girls, one critically. She was airlifted to a military
hospital in Peshawar. Doctors were forced to begin operating after a swelling
developed in the left portion of her brain, which had been damaged by the
bullet when it passed through her head. After a three-hour surgery, doctors
successfully removed the bullet that had lodged near her spinal cord.
Ihsanullah Ihsan, chief
spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack,
saying that Yousafzai “is the symbol of the infidels and obscenity.” He added
that if she survived, they would target her again.
Responding to questions
about leaving the country, Yousafzai's father, Ziaddun, has said "We
wouldn't leave our country if my daughter survives or not. We have an ideology
that advocates peace. The Taliban cannot stop all independent voices through
the force of bullets."
As of 10 October 2012,
Yousafzai is still unconscious and on a ventilator in the intensive care unit
of a military hospital in Peshawar. A plane is on standby at nearby Bacha Khan
International Airport to move her out of Pakistan for further treatment if
necessary. The Pakistani government has offered to pay for all medical costs
that she incurs.
The assassination attempt received worldwide media coverage and produced an immediate outpouring of sympathy, along with widespread anger. Protests against the shooting were held in several Pakistani cities the day after the attack. Pakistani officials offered a $105,000 (10m rupee) reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers.
- United States President Barack Obama found the news of the Talibani shooting of 14-year-old Malala "reprehensible, disgusting and tragic".
- United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a gathering of the American Girl Scouts movement, said Malala Yousafzai had been "very brave in standing up for the rights of girls" and that the attackers had been "threatened by that kind of empowerment".
- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called it a "heinous and cowardly act".
- Yousafzai's father, Ziaddun Yousafzai, said "We wouldn't leave our country if my daughter survives or not. We have an ideology that advocates peace. The Taliban cannot stop all independent voices through the force of bullets."
- One of Yousafzai's classmates told ARY Digital, a Pakistani television network, that "Every girl in Swat is Malala. We will educate ourselves. We will win. They can't defeat us".
- The singer Madonna spoke about Yousafzai at a concert in Los Angeles on 9 October 2012. "This made me cry," Madonna said. "The 14-year-old schoolgirl who wrote a blog about going to school. The Taliban stopped her bus and shot her. Do you realize how sick that is?" Madonna later dedicated her song, "Human Nature", to Yousafzai during the concert.
- Marxist Alan Woods mourned the assassination attempt, saying that Yousafzai "was on the side of the oppressed people of Pakistan and Afghanistan and every other country", going on to claim that she was a sympathiser of the IMT.