Malala Yousafzai: The Most Influential Teenager in the World

Malala Yousafzai, at only sixteen years old, is a Pakistani education activist, known mostly for surviving the assassination attempt made on her life last year. While the Taliban took responsibility for the attempt, Yousafzai’s bravery in speaking up for women’s education has made her a target for many other organizations as well.

Unfortunately, as she became more recognizable, the Taliban began to take notice of her. In October 2012, as Yousafzai was riding the bus home, a Taliban gunman shot her in the head. The bullet traveled the length of her head before lodging itself in her shoulder. Because of her inspirational messages, countries from all over the world offered medical treatment for her. Eventually, she was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in the United Kingdom, where she made a full recovery.

While many people around the world reacted in anger, the loudest reaction came from Pakistan, where multiple protests against the shooting were held. Additionally, 2 million people signed the Right to Education petition, which led to the ratification of the first Right to Education Bill in Pakistan. Also, a group of  Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā, or a ruling of Islamic law, against the Taliban gunman.

After her recovery, Yousafzai went on to speak before the United Nations on her birthday in July 2012. Called “Malala Day,” it was her first official speech after the assassination attempt. Described as a hero, she goes on to say,”Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who has raised their voice for their rights,” according to World at School.

Because of her selfless desire to fuel education, she was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. While the award went to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, she is the youngest person, at age 16, to be nominated for it.

In 2008, the BBC offered eleven-year-old Yousafzai the opportunity to write an anonymous blog about her everyday life and dealing with the education bans set by the Taliban. While girls’ school were being destroyed and attacked, Yousafzai fearlessly continued her blog, stating in an entry, “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.”

Soon the girls’ schools were reopened, and Yousafzai’s blog ended in March of 2009. However, her political career began when a New York Times reporter approached her family with the idea of filming a documentary. Soon after, she began appearing on public television, advocating the need for female education. In late 2009, her identity as a blogger was released in multiple articles.

A couple years later, she became the first Pakistani girl to be nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. While she did not receive the award, she was later awarded the National Youth Peace Prize two months later.