Vocate’s Wall of Fame: Malala Yousafzai
This article is part of our series Vocate’s Wall of Fame. Each person described in the series is someone who has inspired the Vocate team and who we believe represents what “unlocking human potential” means. Quite literally, the Wall of Fame exists in our office (printed out images framed on the wall) and every week we vote in a new honoree.
Malala Yousafzai has demonstrated more bravery and has fought more passionately for human rights than almost anyone before the age 18. She grew up in Pakistan, a country riddled with frightening and domineering Taliban rule. Despite the Taliban’s oppressive nature in Pakistan, Malala’s father, Ziauddin, empowered her through the virtue of education. He encouraged her to stay up late and discuss politics and academic works. Ziauddin was also a fierce activist who once received a death threat from the Taliban, but remained in Pakistan because he believed it was critical to stand for justice. His relentless activism inspired her to speak out for her beliefs.
Malala’s activism began in seventh grade. She published blog posts for BBC Urdu describing the Taliban’s autonomy in Swat and chronicled the ban on girls-only education and how it escalated into the destruction of many schools. When her posts concluded in 2009, she was approached by a New York Times reported who wanted to film a documentary of her life. Around this time she gained widespread recognition and admiration as she spoke up on talk shows. She stressed the importance of female education. Malala was also awarded the first National Youth Peace Prize in Pakistan.
Her heightening influence and inspiration caused the Taliban to perform an assassination attempt. In 2012 a Taliban member shot her in the head on her way to school. After almost half a year of rehab and serious medical attention, she fully recovered without brain damage. Her supporters were so outraged by the assassination attempt that over 2 million people protested and petitioned for the Right of Education Bill which was later passed in Pakistan.
Despite this setback, she champions female education and fights for equal education rights. Her efforts earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 — she is the youngest laureate. In 2015, she opened a school on the border of Syria for female Syrian refugees so they can acquire proper education every female she deserves.
Malala inspires us in so many different ways. She fought violent injustice at a young age and remained steadfast in her efforts despite threats from the Taliban. She strives to help girls reach their potentially by receiving a deserved education. She sacrificed her security and life for the greater community of girls in Pakistan. Her blog posts and speeches enlightened the world of the true perils of the Taliban. Today, at 19 she fights injustices and improves the lives of girls her age.
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To show our appreciation, we’re sending her a letter! Here’s a personal note from her nominator, Liza Lindgren: