Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Pakistan's Malala, global icon of girls' education

10 December 2014, 13:19

Islamabad - Schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai's courageous fightback from being shot by the Taliban has transformed her into a symbol for human rights and a campaigner in global demand.

Few teenagers can lay claim to a Nobel Prize, or say they spent their 17th birthday lobbying Nigeria's president to do more to free hundreds of girls kidnapped by Islamist militants.

But Malala is no ordinary teen.

Also Read: Malala urges children to fight for education
She had already been in the public eye for years when a Taliban gunman boarded her school bus on 9 October, 2012, asked "Who is Malala?", and shot her in the head.

Her father Ziauddin, a school principal and himself a seasoned campaigner for education, helped propel the precociously talented girl from the Swat valley in northwest Pakistan into the limelight.

At his encouragement, Malala started writing a blog for the BBC's Urdu service under a pseudonym in 2009, aged just 11, about life under the Taliban in Swat, where they were banning girls' education.

Militant takeover 

In 2007 the Islamist militants had taken over the area, which Malala affectionately called "My Swat", and imposed a brutal, bloody rule.

Opponents were murdered, people were publicly flogged for supposed breaches of sharia law, women were banned from going to market, and girls were stopped from going to school.

Her blog, written anonymously with the clarity and frankness of a child, opened a window for Pakistan onto the miseries being perpetrated within its borders.

But it was only after the shooting in 2012, and Malala's subsequent near-miraculous recovery in a British hospital, that she became a truly global figure.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, a UN special education envoy, visited her in hospital shortly afterwards and took up her cause with a petition which he presented to the Pakistani government.

A formidable force

She has since become something of an international star - a formidable, and instantly recognisable force for human rights.

She received a standing ovation in July 2013 for an address to the United Nations General Assembly in which she vowed never to be silenced.

The teen went on later that year to win the European Union's prestigious Sakharov human rights prize.

The 17-year-old has also published an autobiography and been invited to tea with Queen Elizabeth II, achieving a level of fame more akin to a movie star than an education campaigner.

In an interview in 2013 with CNN's Christiane Amanpour at a sold-out public event in New York, Malala said she wanted to become prime minister of Pakistan to "save" her country.

Also Read: UN urges Nigeria not to relent on Chibok girls

Her autobiography "I am Malala" reveals a more girlish side to the teenager - she is a fan of Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber and the "Twilight" series of vampire romance novels.

But her activism has continued. On her 17th birthday earlier this year she was in Abuja, pushing President Goodluck Jonathan to meet with the parents of hundreds of girls who had been kidnapped by the Islamist group Boko Haram.

Although she missed out on the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, she was nominated a second time this year and won along with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children's rights activist.

Controversial at home

Her feat was lauded by Pakistan's leaders, its liberal press and many girls and women in her native Swat who see her as an inspirational figure.

But she remains controversial among some conservatives at home, who view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country.

An association of private schools held an "I am not Malala" day last month exemplifying the trend.

The controversy has not deterred her, however.

In October she announced she would donate $50 000 to help rebuild UN schools in Gaza, and last month she addressed a thousand schoolchildren in her home province via videolink, urging them to fight on for education.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...