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Why Malala Yousafzai's Nobel Peace Prize Matters for Every Girl's Future

Discover why Malala Yousafzai's Nobel Peace Prize is crucial for girls' education worldwide and how her bravery is paving the way for a brighter future.


Malala Yousafzai Nobel Peace Prize

Malala Yousafzai is an influential and prominent figure in the human rights movement. From an early age, she fought for girls' right to education. In 2014, at 17, she became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala set a personal example for her peers by boldly challenging the Taliban, and you can read about it in her memoir titled "I Am Malala."

She was the first recipient of Pakistan's National Peace Prize, which has since been renamed the Malala Peace Prize in her honor. The young Pakistani woman is known outside the country. She became the character of an American documentary film and was the subject of numerous publications in the foreign press. But what exactly did she do to earn the Nobel Peace Prize? Let’s find out!

Early life and education 

Malala grew up in Mingora, Swat Valley, Pakistan, with her two younger brothers. Her family practiced Islam and belonged to the Pashtun ethnic group.

Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, is a private school chain owner of Khushal Public School and an educational activist. He believed in the power of knowledge and its crucial role in shaping minds and futures. He encouraged Malala, his oldest child, to learn, explore, and, most importantly, dream. Ziauddin allowed his daughter to continue her studies and not keep quiet about injustices. He supported her activities in disseminating information about rights restrictions.

In 2007, the Taliban began to take control of Swat Valley in Pakistan, where Malala lived, and imposed strict interpretations of Sharia law, which included banning girls from attending school. Despite the dangers, Ziauddin encouraged Malala to speak out against these restrictions. When Malala was 11, she began to write a diary for the BBC under the pseudonym Gul Makai, which gained worldwide publicity. This was a story about something that seemed absolutely unbelievable: the Taliban's efforts to close girls' schools and ban education under the threat of severe punishment.

"Thank you to my father for not clipping my wings and for letting me fly."

malala about her father

The assassination attempt

Her diary attracted the attention of journalists from the New York Times, who made a documentary about the young human rights activist. At the beginning of 2012, Malala and her family realized that terrorists had noticed her activities, leading to threats. In her book, Malala mentioned that her father received threatening phone calls but chose not to share this with her.

"Malala Yousafzai," the Taliban said, "should be killed."

On the 9th of October, 2012, she was coming back home from school when a Taliban gunman went inside her school bus, asked her name, and shot her in the head.

It was a severe injury. Pakistani doctors initially fought for her life. And six days later, the girl, who became a symbol of courage worldwide, was taken to the famous Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. She successfully underwent operations to reconstruct the skull and restore hearing.

Global recognition

After narrowly escaping death, Malala's spirit remained unbroken. She refused to let her attackers silence her. Instead, she emerged more assertive and vocal, transforming her horrific ordeal into a catalyst for change. Though targeted, her determination to fight for every girl's right to education turned her cause into a global issue.

News of the attack spread like wildfire, causing an outcry worldwide. It was a wake-up call that highlighted the dire situation faced by many girls in regions plagued by extremism. Her story touched millions, sparking a wave of support. It wasn't just about Malala; it was about every girl denied her right to an education.

United Nations Youth Assembly 

On her sixteenth birthday in July 2013, Malala spoke at the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York to a standing ovation. 4,000 young people from 80 countries listened to her speech, which was Yusufzai's first public speech.

"The pen is mightier than the sword. It is true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them."

malala - pen is mightier than the sword

In her speech, Malala emphasized that Pakistan is the second country in the world with the most significant number of children who do not receive primary education.

She mentioned that the attack of the Taliban did not change anything in her life but only relieved her of fear, weakness, and hopelessness.

"One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first."

malala about the power of education

At the UN, Yousafzai spoke wearing a white and pink scarf of the Pakistani political leader Benazir Bhutto, the first female prime minister in the recent history of a Muslim country, who was killed in a terrorist attack in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.

BBC interview

In the first detailed interview with the BBC - after the attack and her recovery - 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai said,

"Killing people, torturing people and flogging people… it's totally against Islam. They are misusing the name of Islam."

However, in an interview with the BBC, she said peace had to be negotiated with the Taliban.

"The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue."

malala about the importance of solving conflicts through dialogue

The international media closely followed her recovery. Her fate made Malala a symbol in the fight against the oppression of women and girls. And soon, it became clear that the Taliban's goal to silence the girl was defeated. Malala began to speak boldly again - and to a much larger crowd.

Malala Yousafzai said she was considering entering politics to serve her country.

"I will be a politician in my future. I want to change the future of my country and I want to make education compulsory."

Nobel Peace Prize

In 2014, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who campaigns for the right to education for Muslim girls, and Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo.

The Nobel committee called both activists "fighters for peace." Mr. Satyarthi said receiving the award is a "great opportunity" to continue fighting against child slavery. Yousafzai and Satyarthi received their awards from the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thurbjörn Jagland, in the presence of King Harald V of Norway. During the award ceremony, they gave their Nobel lectures.

Malala's lecture was breathtaking. What a confident speech she had! Some citations from her lectures:

"Education is one of the blessings of life—and one of its necessities."

"I had two options. One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up."

"Why is it that countries which we call "strong" are so powerful in creating wars but are so weak in bringing peace? Why is it that giving guns is so easy but giving books is so hard?"

malala about why she decided to speak up about unjustices

The Nobel Committee selects laureates for the prize every October, and the awarding takes place annually on the day of Nobel's death, December 10. Each laureate receives a Nobel Prize laureate diploma, a medal, and a monetary award of 11 million Swedish kroner ($1,11). The money that Malala won was donated to the Malala Fund.

"...I dedicate the Nobel Peace Prize money to the Malala Fund, to help give girls quality education, everywhere, anywhere in the world and to raise their voices."

The Malala Fund activity

With renewed determination and a burning heart, Malala founded the Malala Fund. It was not just a charity but a rallying cry for the silent and marginalized, a beacon of hope for the girls who, like her, dreamed of a better world. The Fund was created with a straightforward but profound vision: a world where every girl can learn and be a leader.

From the remote corners of Nigeria, where girls have no rights because of fear of Boko Haram, to the heart of Syria, where the smoke of war has clouded young minds, the Malala Fund has reached out, lending a helping hand. The organization has been instrumental in advocating on international platforms and funding local education initiatives, contributing significantly to breaking down barriers that hold girls back.

Malala became the embodiment of resistance to those who tried to deprive girls of their right to education. She visited refugee camps, constantly highlighting the plight of girls. Her message was clear and resonated worldwide: quality education for girls is not just a choice but a fundamental right.

In 2023, her fund worked in various world regions, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and countries where Syrian refugees and Rohingya live. The Malala Fund founded the Education Champions Network. This initiative aims to identify, invest in, and scale the work of promising local lawyers and educators in countries where the education situation is critical. The fund is not engaged in opening schools but rather in helping existing educators.

Malala's memoir

Her activity was not limited to advocacy. She wrote a memoir, "I Am Malala," detailing her experiences and shed light on the challenges millions of girls face worldwide. She began working with global policymakers to ensure more resources were allocated to girls' education.

The book of the young Malala Yousafzai, written in co-authorship with the British journalist Christina Lamb, shook the whole civilized world. Immediately after publication, the memoir hit the New York Times bestseller list.

"I Am Malala" has been translated into over 40 languages.

The book received rave reviews from critics and won several awards, but it was banned from many schools in Pakistan. In 2014, a children's edition of the memoir was published under "I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World."

It is hard to envision a more moving war chronicle, except perhaps Anne Frank's diary. The crucial difference is that we tragically lost Anne, whereas, by some miracle, this girl survived.

In the story of Malala, we see the transformative power of education. We witness how a single voice can rise above the noise, transcend cultural and geographic boundaries, and spark global change. We recognize the importance of standing up for our beliefs, even when facing challenges.

Read the detailed summary in the Headway app

Headway believes we can change and grow regardless of age, gender, or circumstances.

When we explore "I am Malala," we find not just a description of personal triumph but a collective call to action—a call to recognize and defend girls' rights to education worldwide, to stand up to injustice, even when the odds are against us, and to make the world a better place.

With the Headway app, you can grasp the key ideas of this book in just 15 minutes! Enjoy a concise summary, available to read or listen to at your convenience. The summary highlights the most impactful ideas and quotes. The app also offers quizzes and personalized book recommendations to help you achieve your goals and grow daily. Are you ready to embark on this self-growth journey with us?


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