MALALA = COURAGE
"How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?"
Malala Yousafzai (Malala meaning warrior woman) tells her audience at just 10 years old.
On 9th October 2012, Malala was shot in the head and neck returning home on a school bus, in Swat Valley - Pakistan, in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen. Days after she remained unconscious and in critical condition but was later moved to the UK for medical attention.
The following, taken from Malala's writings, give a sense of her activism, since the age of 10:
"...My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.
Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban's edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.
On my way from school to home I heard a man saying 'I will kill you'. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone."
Malala Yousafzai, 3 January 2009 - first writings for BBC blog
Malala would hand write notes then pass them on to a reporter, who would scan and e-mail them for a BBC Urdu blog. In those early days the blog captures Malala's troubled psychological state, as fewer girls show up to school, and finally, her school shuts down during the Taliban's take over of the Swat Valley.
In January 2009 the Taliban decreed that no girls could attend school. They had already blown up more than a hundred girls’ schools.
January 2009, Malala wrote:
"Five more schools have been destroyed, one of them was near my house. I am quite surprised, because these schools were closed so why did they also need to be destroyed?"
January 2009, Malala wrote:
"Our annual exams are due after the vacations but this will only be possible if the Taleban allow girls to go to school. We were told to prepare certain chapters for the exam but I do not feel like studying."
"It seems that it is only when dozens of schools have been destroyed and hundreds others closed down that the army thinks about protecting them. Had they conducted their operations here properly, this situation would not have arisen.
"I have a new dream … I must be a politician to save this country. There are so many crises...
"My purpose is to serve humanity." Malala Yousafzai
A video dated 22 December 2009 shows Malala entering an assembly room full of children who rise and begin clapping as they see her. She takes her chair at a table onstage where, behind her, a large banner reads District Child Assembly. The assembly was established with the support of UNICEF, to provide "a unique opportunity for young people to voice their concerns about child right's issues, and to present solutions to address these concerns."
In December 2009 Malala began participating in the Institute for War and Peace Reporting's "Open Minds" project, which brought journalism training and discussions of current affairs to 42 schools in Pakistan. The program also edited their work and put them in touch with local newspapers. Malala's own success had inspired other young people, and many of those entering the program were girls.
As Malala became more recognized, the dangers facing her became more acute. Death threats were published in newspapers and slipped under her door. On Facebook she began receiving threats and fake profiles were created under her name. Malala deleted her personal page, but vowed to “never stop working for education for girls".
"I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right."