As I’m writing this, in February of 2016, Malala Yousafzai is not even twenty years old. She turns twenty next summer.
In her short, not even twenty, years she’s seen her hometown taken over by the Taliban and watched as they banned girls from getting an education.
In a Taliban-controlled area of Pakistan, a place where people lived in fear, she spoke out against them. In an area of strong Taliban supporters, she gave a public speech entitled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” This was broadcast throughout the region.
She was 11.
She spoke against the Taliban, but their resolve was strengthening. They continued limiting the activities people were allowed to participate in. They dragged the bodies of beheaded policemen in the street. They banned the media.
But, the media still wanted to know what was happening there. The BBC wanted a child’s perspective. They asked around. But family after family said no. Parents knew what happened when people don’t do what the Taliban wants.
Malala’s family knew the importance of letting people know what was going on. Eventually the BBC and Malala connected. She started writing blog posts for them in 2009.
She was still 11.
Malala blogged anonymously for three months. She described the frequent shelling, the reaction to the girls’ schools being closed and bombed, and the silence in the streets between the attacks. She explained fear.
After she finished blogging her family remained active in anti-Taliban sentiment. A documentary team filmed them. Her father received death threats for his words.
Eventually the girl behind the anonymous blog was revealed.
The Taliban now knew the identity of the girl who defied them.
She was 12.
Malala continued to raise awareness of the importance of female education. She was nominated for and awarded various peace prizes.
She received death threats from the Taliban.
She was 13.
Schools in Pakistan were named after her. She planned a foundation to raise money so that poor girls could receive an education.
Taliban leaders agreed that she must be killed.
She was 14.
On a bus ride home after an exam in October of 2012, a Taliban gunman found her and shot her. The bullet hit her in the head, went through her neck, and down her shoulder.
She was 15.
She had multiple surgeries in several countries. Her family temporarily moved to England and she was released from the hospital. They stayed in England and she attended an all-girls school. A few months after starting school, she completed her exams with straight As.
She was still 15.
Since then she has received even more public support and praise. She continues to build awareness for her causes – girls’ rights in general and access to education. She has a day honoring her, July 12, 2013, when she spoke at the United Nations.
She was 16.
While she continues to advocate, the Taliban has tried to justify her attack. The shooter is still at large, but some of the people involved in the attack have been arrested. Many Islamic clerics and scholars denounced her attackers.
She was nominated for and is the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was 17.
She’s also written a book about her life. A story so important that there are various versions of it for different age groups.
I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is the original version.
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World is the version for young readers. From ages grade 6 and up.
There are also several picture books available for younger children.
Her story is more than just the story of a child who pushed passed fear, survived an attack, and won a Nobel Peace Prize. Her story is that girls are powerful and children can get their voices heard.
She is 18.
And her story is getting even more accessible. Last year a movie about her story was released. The film will be shown commercial-free on February 29, 2016 at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 CT on the National Geographic Network.
Here’s the trailer to the film:
I know I’ll be watching, join me.
Did you watch the film? I did and it was very interesting to see how Malala lives. If you want to know how to watch the movie now, please check their movie website.Learn more about Malala Click To Tweet