On October 9, 2012 Malala Yousafzai was on her way home from exams, chatting with friends on her school bus. Then two men flagged the bus down and Malala, along with two other girls, were brutally shot.
As Malala was airlifted to a military hospital in Peshawar with a gunshot wound to the head, her father received the call the Yousafzais always feared, but didn’t think possible – their fearless daughter, a child of 15, had been the target of an assassination attempt. Her crime? Speaking up for girls’ right to education, defying Taliban insurgents in her home region of Swat Valley, Pakistan.
5 years later to the day, the world’s youngest Nobel Laureate attended her first class at the University of Oxford`, opening up yet another chapter in her young life that is sure to inspire millions more. Rumors first appeared in late Summer that the 20-year-old UN Messenger for Peace was to attend the prestigious university, and she soon confirmed with an excited tweet. Already experienced far beyond most her age in the art of diplomacy and activism, the global icon is now studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University’s Lady Margaret Hall.
5 years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls’ education. Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford. pic.twitter.com/sXGnpU1KWQ
— Malala (@Malala) October 9, 2017
Born in 1997, Malala Yousafzai was raised in the Swat Valley of northern Pakistan in a time of peace. However, by the age of 10, the teacher’s daughter was already campaigning for girls’ right to education.
As Taliban insurgents took over the Swat Valley, conditions for women and girls deteriorated fast. But the fearless teenager refused to step back and continued to be an active voice against the repression brought on by Taliban. Writing under a pseudonym, Malala started blogging for BBC Urdu about life under the regime and her continued hope for access to education – banned for all women by the Taliban.
On October 9, 2012 on her way home from exams, the 15-year-old activist was on a bus with other students and teachers, although not too long ago, she had still walked to school every day. But as the fearless teenager continued to campaign for girls’ right to education, and her public profile grew, Malala’s family began fearing for her safety.
The roads were eerily empty that day, Malala noticed. As she shared her unease with school friend Moniba, their bus was flagged down. What happened next was violence beyond what anybody had imagined. While the Taliban had previously attacked other women they deemed to have broken their laws, 15-year-old Malala was, after all, still a child. But that didn’t deter the gunman who opened fire on Malala, gravely injuring her and two others.
By March 2013, Malala was back in school, and her profile continued to grow, rising to the global stage. Later that year she and her father Ziauddin launch the Malala Fund, dedicated to continue fighting for the right to education for girls everywhere.
Working tirelessly over the next couple of years, December 2014 brought on a historic moment as Malala became the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate. For their tireless fight for the right to education of all children and against the oppression of minors, Kailash Satyrarthy and Malala Yousafzai were awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Next year, He Named Me Malala is released and the biographic documentary spreads Malala’s message and her story to 175 countries in 11 languages. While tirelessly pursuing her education, Malala continues to travel the world to meet leaders and youth and campaign for access to education, inspiring seasoned diplomats and everyday school children alike.