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What Did Malala Yousafzai Fight For? Her Inspiring Story and Legacy

Discover Malala Yousafzai's inspiring fight for girls' education and her enduring legacy.

What Malala Yousafzai fight for

In a world where the voices of young girls often go unheard, what did Malala Yousafzai fight for? She fought for girl's rights and equality worldwide, specifically for the right to education. From her humble beginnings in Pakistan to becoming a global symbol of courage and resilience, Malala's journey is nothing short of extraordinary. As we delve into the life events of Malala Yousafzai, we uncover the roots of her mission and celebrate her significant accomplishments that have inspired millions to join the fight for a brighter, more just world.

Early life and inspiration

Malala Yousafzai comes from a Pashtun family. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, was engaged in education and instilled these values ​​in his daughter. He is a passionate advocate for universal education who founded and ran a chain of girls' schools in the Swat Valley, including the Khushal Girls High School, which Malala attended. His schools provided quality education in a region where access to education, particularly for girls, was severely limited.

In early 2009, the Pakistani Taliban tried to maintain control over the Swat Valley in the north of the country. Among the strict bans imposed by Islamic militants in the region was a ban on schooling for girls. 

"I was a girl in a land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain, their role in life simply to prepare food and give birth to children." (Malala, 2013)

Malala Yousafzai quote

Rise to prominence

Malala was 11 years old at the time of Taliban oppression. Her family lived in Mingora, the largest town in Swat district. The ban on education also extended to Malala's school, but she decided to fight for the right to get an education. Journalist Abdul Hai Kakar suggested that she write a blog for the BBC in Urdu under a pseudonym and tell about life under Taliban control. Malala chose the nickname Gul Makai. The blog was translated into English and gained popularity.

"Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taliban's edict." (Malala, 2013)

Malala Yousafzai quote

After the BBC published the diary, Malala appeared in a New York Times documentary and talked about the oppression of girls and women by the Taliban. Malala and her father gave an interview for the Voice of America, and the BBC shared the truth about the situation in the Swat Valley. 

The National Youth Peace Prize

In 2011, Malala received the National Youth Peace Prize. She was among the top five nominees for a prestigious international peace award, making her the first Pakistani child to achieve such a distinction. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani honored her contributions to education by acknowledging her work at a national level, highlighting her courage and dedication in the face of adversity. 

Threat and attack 

Malala became known in 2011 as the author of her diary blog on BBC. Malala says that in January-February 2012, she received calls with death threats and intimidation to continue her activity. On October 9, 2012, the threats became a reality. When Malala and her classmates were returning home on a school bus, a Taliban gunman shot at her. She said she had a feeling that it would happen sooner or later. The bullet went through the head and neck. The condition of Malala was critical, and she was transferred to Birmingham Hospital in England for further treatment.

Achievements and recognition

Malala recovered from the assassination attempt, and her work as an education activist received increasing recognition. In 2013, Time magazine listed 16-year-old Malala among the world's most influential people as a brave leader and champion for girls. 

On July 12, 2013, she gave her first public speech after the injury. On the day called "Malala Day," she spoke at the United Nations.

Speech to the UN

On her 16th birthday, Malala Yousafzai made a remarkable speech to the UN Assembly. It's been less than a year since she was shot in the face by the Taliban for standing up for Pakistani girls' right to education. She addressed hundreds of Assembly delegates and thousands of spectators with mercy and confidence, without bitterness or malice.

Nobel Peace Prize

At the age of 17, she became a Nobel Prize laureate. In her speech, Malala spoke about the fight for justice and the importance of telling the truth. The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to honor the Indian Kailash Satyarthi and 17-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai's struggle against the oppression of children and youth and for children's rights to education. The press release emphasizes that the committee considers it essential that representatives of India and Pakistan, representatives of Hindus and Muslims, fight together against extremism and for enlightenment.

In October 2013, Malala released her autobiography “I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.” The biography of the Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai has touched the hearts of many. A girl who believes that all children worldwide have the right to receive an education - regardless of gender, nationality, or religion. Books like this captivate us with their realistic depiction of events and firsthand experiences. They enable us to gain a deep understanding of different cultures. It inspires us to be active in society and make our contribution, even if it is small.

Favorite quotes from the book 

"I don't want to be thought of as the 'girl who was shot by the Taliban' but the 'girl who fought for education.' This is the cause to which I want to devote my life."

"We were scared, but our fear was not as strong as our courage."

Malala Yousafzai quote

"In Pakistan, when women say they want independence, people think this means we don’t want to obey our fathers, brothers, or husbands. But it does not mean that. It means we want to make decisions for ourselves. We want to be free to go to school or to go to work."​

Read more inspirational quotes here.

Establishment of the Malala Fund

"Education is a basic human right that works to raise men and women out of poverty, level inequalities and ensure sustainable development." – UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

At the end of 2012, UNESCO reiterated its commitment to fighting for girls' education rights and decided to establish the Malala Fund. The rights of too many girls in many countries are violated simply because they are girls. They are forced to work early, are forced into child marriage, and are deprived of the right to go to school.

Ziauddin Yousafzai has continued his advocacy work on a global scale. Established by Malala and Ziauddin Yousafzai in 2013, the Malala Fund advocates for every girl's right to receive 12 years of free, safe, and high-quality education.

Continued advocacy in girls' education

As an educational activist, Malala continued her studies in Great Britain, graduating from a high school in Birmingham. She then entered one of the most prestigious universities in the world—the University of Oxford—to become even more knowledgeable in politics and economics. In 2021, she graduated it.

In an interview for UN News, Malala talked about the Fund's projects, plans, and aims. The Fund invests in local leaders and activists who advocate for girls' education at regional and national levels. In Nigeria, their collaboration extended mandatory education from 9 to 12 years, now protected by law. The Fund's initiatives also encompass teacher training, empowering girls to engage with leaders, and enhancing global education quality through e-learning and other improvements. The primary goal of the Malala Fund is to empower local leaders who are removing barriers to girls' secondary education called Education Champion Network.


"Through the Malala Fund, I decided to advocate for the education of Syrian refugees in Jordan. I went to the Syrian border and witnessed scores of refugees fleeing into Jordan. They had walked through the desert to get there with just the clothes on their backs. Many children had no shoes. I broke down and cried as I witnessed their suffering. In the refugee settlements, most of the children were not going to school." (Malala, 2013)

Malala Yousafzai quote

When Malala Yousafzai was 18, she helped open a school for Syrian girls. The school supported by the Malala Fund is located in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, near the border with Syria. It serves Syrian refugee girls, providing them with the opportunity to continue their education despite their displacement.


Afghanistan is currently the only country enforcing a comprehensive ban on girls' education. This is just one of many restrictions imposed by the Taliban that limit the public participation of women and girls. After the Taliban took control of the Afghan government in 2021, the Malala Fund temporarily stopped its grants in the country. Instead, they redirected their efforts toward ensuring the safety of their Education Champions.

In 2022, $567,000 was directed to the Afghanistan Response Fund to support local activists who would restore school learning.


The conflict that erupted in Tigray in 2022 displaced 2.3 million children from school, including 1.7 million girls, jeopardizing the region's educational progress. Malala Fund activated its network of Education Champions to provide essential learning support to girls. After the conflict ended, they worked with local organizations to ensure the recovery efforts focused on helping girls.

Current activism

The Malala Fund raises teenagers' awareness of environmental issues. The close relationship between ecology and education is evident in practice. According to the Malala Fund reports, droughts in Africa cause a lack of water and food, which leaves children unable to learn, as well as floods and infections transmitted by animals. 

Various environmental obstacles that reduce the financial capabilities of families in underdeveloped countries also create gender inequality. Since resources are limited, parents choose to educate boys. The goal of the Malala Fund is to educate teenagers about ecology because the consequences of environmental disasters directly impact their lives.

In India, Pakistan, and Nigeria, the Fund takes steps to increase the number of children continuing their studies in secondary school. The Malala Fund also develops leadership programs for young women to teach them how to advocate for their rights and actively participate in society. It empowers young girls with decision-making and personal growth workshops.

In its 2023 report, the Fund informed their support of the Education Champions, whose innovative efforts have enabled millions of girls to access education. In Lebanon, they installed solar panels to ensure schools have continuous lighting. In Pakistan, they are partnering with the government to promote STEAM education for girls. They are setting up Parent-Teacher Associations in Tanzania to engage parents in their daughters' education. Additionally, their Girl Programme (an 18-month fellowship to train participants in promoting gender equality) makes the presence of young girls leaders felt at international events, speaking alongside influential leaders who can enact changes to better their lives. 

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