The Girl Who Would Not Stop Learning

Imagine not being able to go to school. To most of us, it may seem like a bliss- staying at home and lazing about, succumbing to lethargy. However peaceful that may seem to be, it really isn’t. We view education as simply a characteristic of our lives and not something for which we need to stand.

In the Swat Valley of Pakistan, this is not the case. Before 2009,the governing Taliban had banned education for girls. A young girl of 15 years of age called Malala Yousafzai did not stand for that. Malala Yousafzai was born on the 12th of July, 1997, to a Muslim Sunni family, and educated mostly by her father who was an educational activist and a poet. Since the age of 11-12, Malala had been writing articles on the BBC and blogging about her life under the Taliban, how they plan to take over the valley, and her views on the necessity of education for girls. Of course, when she wrote her articles, she held a pseudonym. She soon was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize award by activist Desmond Tutu, and ultimately gave a voice to the girls of her valley and everywhere in the world through her many interviews on newspaper and television. She would not have known what was to happen to her on the 9th of October, 2012.

This date would forever be etched into the memories of those who stand with her. In 2012, when Malala was only about 15 years old, she was boarding her school bus in the Northwest Pakistani district of Swat, when a gunman came in and asked for Malala by name. Once identified, the gunman fired 3 shots at her, one of the bullets went through her left forehead and down to her shoulder.

This assassination attempt, later identified as a work of the Taliban, left Malala in critical and unconscious state, but later she was well enough to be brought to the Queen’s Hospital in Birmingham, England for further medical rehabilitation. Despite the 50 Islamic clerics who wanted to protect Malala and her family from those who wished to kill them, the Taliban simply reinstated their intent to kill her and her father.

The assassination attempt and Malala’s recovery sparked global support and interest in the topic. Malala was then brought to the public’s attention in the petition for education rights, using her name in the slogan: “I am Malala.”

On Malala’s 16th birthday, she spoke at the UN calling for global support in the fight for education.

“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 was born . . . I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists”,

-Malala Yousafzai

The UN dubbed the 12th of July- Malala Day.

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