(This story was first published on 12 July 2018. It has been reposted from The Quint's archives on the occasion of Malala Yousafzai's birthday.)
Camera: Ahmed Saeed and Umer Bin Ajmal
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Producer: Garvita Khybri
Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan’s most vocal advocate of women’s empowerment and education, turns 21 on 12 July.
The world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala was born and raised in Swat Valley in Pakistan, which fell into Taliban control in 2008. Malala’s early schooling was marred by the hardline Islamist group’s efforts to ban education for girls. Classes were interrupted, schools were blown up or forcefully closed, and girl students were harassed and intimidated into giving up their education. By the end of 2008, the group had forced 400 schools in the region to shut their doors.
Malala Yousafzai’s father, who had started a private school in the valley, took her to Peshawar, where she delivered her now iconic speech, titled: “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”.
She was only 11 then. At the time, the young activist also earned a name for herself with a blog about living under Taliban rule – that she wrote under a pseudonym for BBC Urdu. She also did a few videos for The New York Times. She chronicled the violence in her valley, the systematic destruction of girls’ schools and other regressive Talibani policies.
Soon, the Taliban got a whiff of Malala’s advocacy. She began to receive threats, both online and in person. On 9 October 2012 an armed Taliban militant boarded the bus that Malala was on and shot her in the head.
For Pakistani students, Malala is a symbol of courage.
Malala is not just a name. She is a movement. People now talk about Pakistani women’s education in the timeline of before and after Malala. I think she is a gamechanger for Pakistani women.Mashal Malik Narejo, Student
Another student says she represents the hope for a better future for Pakistan. “She represents a better future for the next generation of Pakistani women,” says Yousuf Sajjad, a student.
She represents a young girl who bounced back from a very traumatic event and was recognised by the rest of the world for her advocacy, her grit and survival.Yousuf Sajjad, Student
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