You know her name, and you probably know some of her story. But did you know…
- She was born in Mingora, in Pakistan‘s Swat Valley, in July of 1997. Mingora is a beautiful city with moderate weather and ancient Buddhist ruins and stupas nearby. When the Taliban sought to control the area, they destroyed an ancient Buddhist statue.
- Not long after the Taliban began it’s takeover of the Valley in 2007, one militant began a pirated radio channel based just a few miles from Mingora. Over the airwaves, he campaigned against girls’ education and liberal ways of life. The center of Mingora, known as the Green Square, went from being a bustling hub of cultural and social activities to being the stage on which the Taliban showcased what they were capable of. They hung the bodies of those who opposed them on the electric lines. The area became known as the “bloody square.” This was the atmosphere in which young Malala lived.
- Malala’s father founded the school Malala attended, and despite the Taliban’s calls for an end to the education of girls, she did not give up her right to an education. In 2008 she gave a speech calling out the Taliban entitled, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
- In 2009 Malala began anonymously blogging for the BBC. She wrote about living under threats from the Taliban. You know, the typical stuff 12 year old girls deal with.
- When she was 14, she and her family learned that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her. However, they stood their ground and Malala still went to school. They thought that even the Taliban would not harm a child.
- In October 2012, a masked man boarded her school bus (more of a truck, really) and asked for Malala. When a couple of the kids looked towards her, the man held a gun to her face and shot her. She was hit in the left side of her head. Two other girls were also injured.
- In November 2012, the Malala Fund was created. First, with the mission to aid with her medical expenses. When she had recovered she said, “I am fine. Help the other Malalas.” So, they did. And they have continued to do so.
- In July 2013, she spoke at the United Nations.
- In October 2013, her book “I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” was published.
- She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize first in 2013, then again in 2014, when she became the youngest person to ever win the prize.
- On her 18th birthday, she opened a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. She urged her supporters to tell world leaders to invest in “books, not bullets.” She wrote:
“The shocking truth is that world leaders have the money to fully fund primary AND secondary education around the world– but they are choosing to spend it on other things, like their military budgets. In fact, if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”