In this second blog post for Disability History Month 2023 (16 November – 16 December), we celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of Malala Yousafzai (1997-) and her fight for the right of every child to receive an education. A passion ignited when she witnessed the Taliban attempt to end access to girls’ education in her home country of Pakistan.
‘The extremists banned many things — like owning a television and playing music — and enforced harsh punishments for those who defied their orders. And they said girls could no longer go to school.’Malala’s Story | Malala Fund | Malala Fund
Showing bravery in the face of adversity, Malala fought back by sharing her experience as a schoolgirl on local television and publishing a diary with the BBC about her life under the Taliban regime. In 2012 at age 15, a masked gunman attempted to silence Malala by shooting at her on a bus as she travelled home from school. One of the bullets entered and exited her head and lodged itself in her shoulder. Malala underwent months of surgery and was brought to an intensive care unit in the UK where she recovered. Her injuries left her deaf in one ear and partially paralysed her face yet she remained determined to speak out for the millions of other girls with stories just like her own. Starting a new life with her family in Birmingham, Malala admirably refused to give up hope:
‘It was then I knew I had a choice: I could live a quiet life or I could make the most of this new life I had been given. I determined to continue my fight until every girl could go to school.’Malala’s Story | Malala Fund | Malala Fund
In 2013, Malala and her father established Malala Fund, a charity dedicated to girls’ education across a number of developing countries. The following year, Malala received the Nobel Peace Prize and became the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate at just 17 years old.
A documentary about Malala and her remarkable story was released internationally in 2015, He Named me Malala can be found on Box of Broadcasts (BOB) – login with your canterbury.ac.uk account.
In 2018, Malala started studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford. Alongside her studies, she travelled to several poverty-stricken and war-torn countries to hear from girls fighting gender discrimination She graduated in 2020 with honours and continues her fight for education and equality. Today the Malala Fund work to support girls’ education in Afganistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania and Turkey. Find out more about Malala and the Malala Fund at malala.org.
Reflecting on the defining moments of her life, Malala presented a TED talk in July 2020.
Malala is one of many inspirational individuals that feature in Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara’s Little People, Big Dreams series. Find these books amongst the Curriculum Resources on the second floor or search “little people big dreams” on LibrarySearch.
Find our Disability History Month 2023 display on the Ground Floor of the Library until 16 December.