Malala Yousafzai Advocating for Girls' Access to Education

Sunday, February 10, 2013 - 7:30pm

            “All I want is an education, and I’m afraid of no one.” Malala Yousavzai, a 15—year old from Pakistan, has boldly fought for the rights of girls to go to school. Her activism has made her a target of the Taliban, who attempted to assassinate her last fall. Malala’s strong convictions come from her family background, and her resolve to stand up for what’s right has brought attention to her cause and earned her a lot of recognition – including a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
            Time Magazine has recognized Malala Yousafzai as a nominee for Person of the Year. She received this recognition for being outspoken during a time when the Taliban was enforcing strict interpretations of Islamic laws. Malala’s father was a social activist who believes that educating girls is vital to Pakistan’s future. Malala’s strong convictions might stem from the values instilled in her by her father. When Malala was eleven years old, her father had taken her to an event with the city’s press club where she gave a speech called “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to an education?” The speech was well received, but there were concerns about her personal safety. After the speech, she continued to be active by blogging about what it was like to go to school under Taliban rule. She also advocated for the increase of funding for education. Education only accounts for 2% of Pakistan’s gross domestic product [compared to 5% in the United States] (Baker).
            Malala’s blog entries reflect Malala’s troubled mind—set during the time of Taliban rule. She described overhearing a man saying, “I’ll kill you” on her way home from school, but she was relieved to find out that he was talking on a cell phone (Malala = Courage). She also described the schools being closed and destroyed, including more than 100 girls’ schools being blown up by the Taliban by January 2009. Malala’s strong convictions also showed through in her writings, since she had written about her goal of becoming a politician so that she could help influence her country in a positive way. She wrote, “My purpose is to serve humanity” (Malala = Courage).
            Malala’s activism made her a target of the Taliban. In Time Magazine, Malala’s classmate described what happened the day that the shooter attempted to take Malala’s life. On October 9, 2012, a Taliban shooter entered a vehicle that was taking Malala and her classmates to school. The shooter demanded to know which student was Malala. Malala’s classmate stated that no one said anything, but they must have looked over at her and inadvertently identified her. The shooter shot Malala and two of her classmates. Miraculously, no one was killed as a result of the shooting.  
            Recently, Malala underwent surgery to have a titanium plate put in her skull, and she was fitted for a cochlear implant (Malala Yousafzai Discharged from Hospital). The Guardian reports that she is currently recovering in her family’s temporary home in Birmingham, England. Although Malala is recovering, there are death threats that are still being made against her in newspapers and on Facebook. There are also threats being sent to her home (Malala = Courage). The Taliban has stated several times that they intend to target her again (Baker).
            Although the Taliban has attempted to silence Malala, they actually brought attention to her cause. Malala has received recognition from several major outlets, including Time Magazine. She was a nominee for Time Magazine’s Person of the year for several reasons. She uses her experiences to encourage others in similar circumstances. Additionally, even though her cause is to help girls gain access to education, she has also brought attention to other issues, including: the health and safety of children in the developing world and women’s rights.
            In addition to her nomination for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has declared November 10th “Malala Day” (Baker). Brown serves on the United Nation’s special envoy for global education. He wanted to honor Malala and the 50 million girls around the world who are not in school (Baker). The Norwegian Parliament nominated Malala for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize (Huus). She was also nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize (Khan).
            In addition to her award nominations, there are also several scholarship funds that were created in Malala’s honor. Time Magazine reported that the Malala Fund is supported by several well—known people, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, astronaut Mark Kelly, and Megan Smith, the vice—president of Google. There are also grants available to individuals and organizations working in education. Students in the United States had raised almost $50,000 for Malala, and there was about $13,700 in gifts sent to the hospital in which Malala was recovering (Baker). Charities and NGOs noticed an increase in donations for girls’ education since Malala has drawn attention to this issue, and the Pakistani President established a $10 Million education fund in Malala’s name (Baker).


Baker, Aryn. "Runner-Up: Malala Yousafzai, the Fighter." Person of the Year. Time Magazine, 19 Dec 2012. Web. 9 Feb 2013. <>.
Huus, Kari. "Malala, Teen Champion of Girls' Rights, Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize." World News. NBC, 3 Feb 2013. Web. 9 Feb 2013. <
Khan, Farzana Ali. "A Teenage Nobel Prize Nominee Leads the Struggle for the Education of Girls." Asian Human Rights Commission , 23 Nov 2011. Web. 9 Feb 2013. <>.
"Malala = Courage." . Voice of a Woman, 1 Jan 2013. Web. 9 Feb 2013. <>.
"Malala Yousafzai Discharged from Hospital." . The Guardian, 8 Feb 2013. Web. 9 Feb 2013. <

About The Author
Johanna Turner