Malala Day is not my day. It is the day of every girl and every boy. It is a day when we come together to raise our voices, so that those without a voice can be heard.
On my birthday last year, I stood before the United Nations and spoke up for girls' rights. You stood with me, with letters, messages and photos of support. Thank you.
This year, we need to raise our voices even louder. I'm asking you to stand with me again on Malala Day to say: We are stronger than the enemies of education. We are stronger than fear, hatred, violence and poverty.
They thought that bullets would silence us, but they failed. Instead, out of that silence came thousands of voices. My birthday wish this year is that we all raise our voices for those under oppression, to show our own power and that courage is stronger than their campaign of fear.
The road to equality is long, but we will succeed if we walk it together. Please join me in raising your voice this Malala Day.
Malala was born (12 July 1997) in Mingora, the Swat District of north west Pakistan to a Sunni Muslim family. She was named Malala, after a famous female Pashun poet and warrior from Afghanistan.
Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai is a poet, and runs a chain of public schools. He is a leading educational advocate himself. In 2009, Malala began writing an anonymous blog for the BBC expressing her views on education and life under the threat of the Taliban taking over her valley.
During this period, the Taliban’s military hold on the area intensified. As the Taliban took control of the area they issued edicts banning television, banning music, and banning women from going shopping and limiting women’s education.
A climate of fear prevailed and Malala and her father began to receive death threats for their outspoken views. As a consequence, Malala and her father began to fear for their safety. After the BBC blog ended, Malala was featured in a documentary made by New York Times reporter Adam B. Ellick. She also received greater international coverage and her identity about writing the BBC blog was revealed.
In 2011, she received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and she was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Her increased profile and strident criticism of the Taliban caused Taliban leaders to meet, and in 2012, they voted to kill her.
Malala replied, “I am Malala.” She was shot with a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder. Two other girls were also injured, though not as badly as Malala.
Malala survived the initial shooting, but was in a critical condition. Her father was convinced she would die and told the village to prepare for her funeral.
She was later moved to Birmingham in the United Kingdom for further treatment at a specialist hospital for treating military injuries. She was discharged on January 3, 2013 and moved with her family to a temporary home in the West Midlands. It was a miracle she was alive.
Her assassination received worldwide condemnation and protests across Pakistan. Over 2 million people signed the Right to Education campaign. The petition helped the ratification of Pakistan’s first right to education bill in Pakistan.
Ehsanullah Ehsan, chief spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Yousafzai was a symbol of the infidels and obscenity. However, other Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwa against the Taliban leaders and said there was no religious justification for shooting a schoolgirl.
Her shooting, and her refusal to stand down from what she believed was right, brought to light the plight of millions of children around the world who are denied an education today.
Today, around the world, girls are denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. And in being denied an education, society loses one of its greatest and most powerful resources.
Malala started the Malala Day to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential, and to demand change.