Malala Yousafzai, The Youngest Nobel Prize Laureate

Written by Juhandi Dwi Putra Lyana, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Lately, we heard the news that Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan again. By that moment I remembered a story of the little girl who got shot by the Taliban on the way back home from her school. Her name is Malala Yousafzai, an activist who fights for the education of women, and children, also the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. 

Malala Yousafzi was born July 12, 1997 in Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. She is the daughter of Ziauddin Yousafzai and Tor Pekai Yousafzai.  She was born into a lower-middle-class household, although she was well-educated, thanks in large part to her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, a poet, school owner, and educational activist who runs the private schools known as the Khushal Public School. She previously stated that she wanted to be a doctor, but her father urged her to pursue a career in politics instead. Her father even made an exception for Malala. He allowed her to stay up late at night and talk about politics, due to Ziauddin thinking that Malala is entirely special.

Aamer Ahmed Khan of the BBC Urdu website and his colleagues devised an innovative method of documenting the Pakistani Taliban’s expanding power in Swat in late 2008. They decided to ask the help of a student to blog anonymously about her experiences at the school. Abdul Hai Kakar, their correspondent in Peshawar, had been in contact with Ziauddin Yousafzai, but had been unable to locate any kids willing to report because their families deemed it too dangerous. Finally, Ziauddin suggested Malala, his 11-year-old daughter. The BBC editors insisted on Yousafzai using an alias because they were frightened for her safety.

Many people began to notice Malala. Desmond Tutu, an activist, nominated her for the International Children’s Peace Prize, and she conducted interviews in print and on television. Moreover, a journalist named Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. Due to the world starting to recognise Malala, the dangers facing her increased. 

After taking an exam on October 9, 2012, Malala and two other girls were shot in an assassination attempt in Pakistan by a Taliban gunman in retaliation for her activism. Malala was shot in the head and remained unconscious. She was in critical condition in the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but her health improved enough because she was transported to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Yousafzai became a prominent activist for the right to education after her recovery. She co-founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization, with Shiza Shahid in Birmingham, and co-authored I Am Malala, an autobiography about Malala Yousafzi, in 2013. She achieved a lot of awards due to her inspirational life. She was also the most influential youth at that time. The biggest achievement given to her was the Nobel Prize at the time she was 17. She is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

From Malala Yousafzi, we can learn that there is no word such as “You are too young for this”. She fights in her peace way, by fighting for education and women rights. We are still young, we can learn more and be creative to create a better world in the future. You can fight for the others who need it the most. Now, it’s time for us to join her in action. Malala has done her part, then how about you?