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Malala’s ‘precious day’: Human rights meets cricket8 min read

November 11, 2021 5 min read

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Malala’s ‘precious day’: Human rights meets cricket8 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Do you recognise this face?

For those of you who got it right, yes, this is Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani Nobel laureate. On November 9, the human rights activist announced that it was a very special day for her — she got married to Asser Malik, a Pakistan Cricket Board official.

The two tied the knot in a small, traditional ceremony in Birmingham, England, and received a lot of affection and good wishes from the millions of people around the world who recognise her for her good work and efforts.

How much do you know about Malala’s achievements and her life? Do you know about her journey to winning the Nobel Peace Prize? Let’s learn a little about this young activist.

Who is Malala?

Malala Yousafzai is a human rights activist. She fought for girls to be allowed to receive an education in Pakistan. 

She was born in Mingora, Pakistan. Mingora is in the Swat District of Pakistan. She went to an all-girls school (run by her father) where she loved learning and was a topper. Her father was an outspoken social activist and educator. 

Malala with her family at their home in England. Photo: DW

In 2007, the Taliban invaded the Swat Valley. The Taliban is a group that believes in strict Islamic law, called Sharia Law.

Read Owliver’s two-part story on the Taliban and Afghanistan for a better, in-depth understanding.

When they (the Taliban) took over the Swat Valley, they began closing schools for girls. They did not allow women to participate in many normal, day-to-day activities, such as taking up jobs or going out alone in public. The Taliban invasion brought much violence to the region, so Yousafzai and her family fled. However, they returned when the violence eased.

Activism begins

Malala making a speech. Photo: un.org

In 2008, once returning home, Malala gave her first speech called ‘How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right to Education?’. This speech became viral all over Pakistan. Then, she began writing about her daily life while living under the Taliban’s rule. The articles were published on a blog for the BBC, and was read by several across the world.

If you could ask Malala one question about her life, work or mission, what would it be? Let us know in the comments below!

Malala was featured in two documentaries about the school shutdown and her experiences. The short films were posted on The New York Times’s website. That same year, the Taliban changed its rules and allowed girls to return to school.

In 2011, Malala began to receive awards for her work. She was nominated in October 2011 for the International Children’s Peace Prize by human rights leader Desmond Tutu. In December that same year, she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. The prize was later renamed the National Malala Peace Prize!

Owliver’s Obscure Observations

After Malala made her speech at the United Nations, The United Nations named July 12 as ‘World Malala Day’. July 12 is also her birthday!

The assassination attempt

Malala with her family while she recovered from her injuries. Photo: University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, via European Pressphoto Agency

Now naturally, the Taliban were not happy with what Malala was doing. Though the school ban rule was lifted, there were still several from the organisation who wanted to deter Malala from her mission.

She received several threats to her life too. One day, while she was on the bus home from school, a man hopped onto the bus and shot Malala in the head!

She was flown to England for treatment, and woke in a hospital a week later. Despite doctors thinking she may not make it, or that she would have suffered brain damage, she survived. Six months later, she was able to attend school again.

Work continues

Getting shot in the head didn’t stop her — in fact, she came back stronger than ever and more determined to work on her cause for women and girls. In 2013, Malala won the United Nations Human Rights Prize, which is given out every five years.

The cover of I Am Malala. Photo: Amazon

Malala also wrote a memoir with the help of another writer. The book, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, was published in 2013.

Malala was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 and won the award in 2014. She was the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born … I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the (Pakistani) Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the (Pakistani) Taliban and all terrorists and extremists.”

Malala Yousafzai

In 2017, Malala released a picture book called Malala’s Magic Pencil. The book is an autobiography directed toward young readers. That same year she started studying at the University of Oxford in England.

Owliver’s Obscure Observations

David Trumble, a British film writer, film director and political cartoonist, created an illustration of Malala as a Disney Princess. 

Cut to present day. Yousafzai completed her secondary school education at Edgbaston High School, Birmingham in England, from 2013 to 2017. From there, she won a place at Oxford University and undertook three years of study for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She graduated in 2020.

Unfortunately, Malala, like numerous other students out there, had to graduate from her university virtually. This picture, shared by her, shows Malala standing in her backyard with in her graduation clothes, holding her certificates. “Like other 2020 graduates, this was not the ending I imagined,” she had told the magazine Vanity Fair.

Here’s wishing Malala a bright future!


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