Malala dared to question Taliban

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Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Malala Yousafzai is the Pakistan schoolgirl who dared to question life under Taliban rule and became a rallying figure for every girl’s right to education.

The 17-year-old who was shot in the head for speaking out refused to be a victim and instead became a voice for millions of young women around the world.

Her journey began in 2009 when as a seventh grade student in the Swat District she was approached about writing an anonymous blog for the BBC expressing her views on education and life under the threat of the Taliban taking over her valley.

Malala – now one of few people recognised by just her first name – did this with the blessing of her father, teacher and poet Ziauddin Yousafzai.

She chronicled events as the Taliban’s military hold on the area intensified and they issued edicts banning women from going shopping and limiting their education.

On January 3 2009, Malala wrote: “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 Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

“Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taliban’s edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.”

When she was revealed as the author of the blog Malala and her father began to receive death threats but by 2011 she had been awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.

On October 9 2012 a masked gunman boarded her school bus and Malala was hit by a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder, narrowly missing her brain.

She was airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where she received life-saving treatment.

Her attempted assassination was condemned across the globe and more than two million people signed the Right to Education petition which helped lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first right to education bill.

On July 12 last year, Malala marked her 16th birthday by delivering a landmark speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York as part of her campaign to ensure free compulsory education for every child.

“Here I stand, one girl, among many,” she told world leaders. “I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard.

“Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.”

The speech saw July 12 marked as Malala Day and the campaign has seen the teenager pen a memoir, I Am Malala, and she has been named by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

The girl named after the Pashtun heroine Malalai has also set up the Malala Fund with the aim of “empowering girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential, and to demand change”.

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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