Who is Malala and What Does She Do: A Story in Five Brief Parts
By: Savannah Hughes
1. Malala tells stories.
“My mother liked my pen name Gul Makai. I also like the name because my real name means ‘grief stricken’.”
When Malala was 11, she began to blog for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban. Her pen name was Gul Makai, also the name of a heroine in a Pashtun folk tale. In this blog, she documented the slow decimation of girls’ education within the Swat Valley. Militants destroyed 150 schools in 2008 alone.
In her entries, she talked about the anxiety about going to school. Could she wear her uniform without attracting too much attention? Was her favorite pink dress going to catch the attention of the Taliban? Never the less, even in the midst of chaos, Malala still remained true to herself, an 11 year old girl. In one entry, she spoke about buying bangles and earrings. In another, she said her friends were “sick to death” of hearing about her vacation stories.
2. Malala speaks honestly.
Malala’s blog quickly gained an international following. Her crisp, honest perspective allowed readers to peer in; to examine the all too neglected view: that of a school girl. Even though BBC honored their agreement and protected her anonymity, her father felt it was necessary to stand up to public pressure. He took her to a large televised press event. It was impossible to anticipate the kind of danger that Malala would be in after being recognized.
3. Malala survives.
After taking an exam on the Quran, Malala boarded a bus home. A Taliban gun man flagged the bus down. Entering, he asked for the girls to point of Malala. No one pointed at her, but their accidental eye contact gave her away. The gunman opened fire. He shot Malala in the head, injuring two other of her friends in the process. The bullet hit Malala’s brow, traveled underneath her skin through the entire length of the side of her head and neck and ended in her shoulder. It would take a titanium plate in her head and a cochlear implant to restore hearing.
4. Malala forgives.
“I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.’”
5. Malala thrives.
She moved to Birmingham, England to continue her education. Her father works at the local Pakistani embassy. She continues to fight for girls education through her work at the Malala Fund. Recently, she traveled to Nigeria to meet with the President to press for the return of the 200 girls held by Boko Haram. For her work on continuing the fight for girls education, at the age of 17, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. What did she do when she found out she won? Malala, ever the good student, went back to chemistry class.
Brenner, Marie. “The Target.” Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair, Apr. 2013. Web.
“The Daily Show: Extended Interview: Malala Yousafzai.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
“Malala Yousafzai: Portrait of the Girl Blogger.” BBC News Magazine. BBC News, n.d. Web.
“Pakistani Heroine: How Malala Yousafzai Emerged from Anonymity.” Time Magazine, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
“Profile: Malala Yousafzai.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2014.
Sharf, Samantha. “Send Books Not Drones: Malala Yousafzai On Nobel Win, Continuing Fight For Girls’ Education.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.