Spotlight on Women’s Rights Activist Malala Yousafzai

Activist Malala Yousafzai. Original Photo Source: AK Rockefeller, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Flickr

Malala Yousafzai first came to public attention in 2009 when she wrote a BBC diary about life in Swat Valley in Northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had banned girls from attending school. Her diary chronicled her desire to remain in education and for girls to have the chance to be educated.

She wrote it under a pseudonym, Gul Makai, the name of a heroine from a Pashtun folk tale. Three years later, in 2012, she was shot in the head and neck due to this, after her school bus was boarded by a member of the Taliban. Her recovery process began in Pakistan and continued in England, where she now lives with her family. Today, Malala is 17 years old.

Malala Yousafzai: Awards and Achievements

The bullet didn’t kill Malala but instead brought her international recognition as the young blogger from Swat Valley fighting for education and women’s rights. In 2011, she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by The Kids Rights Foundation and, in 2012, the Pakistani government awarded her the National Peace Award.

In 2012, she was named as the runner-up as TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year. She was runner-up to the US President Barack Obama and her photo was featured on the prestigious magazine’s cover. Then, in 2013, she won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought; she was 16 at the time. That same year, she released her autobiography I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban, co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb.

Also in 2013, Malala Yousafzai spoke at the headquarters of The United Nations, where she raised a call for worldwide access to education. She also gave the opening speech in the new Library of Birmingham, England. The Canadian Government gave Malala Honorary Citizenship too, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the first to sign a petition requesting that Malala receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Then, on October 10, 2014, Malala Yousafzai did indeed win the Nobel Peace Prize, sharing it with Indian child rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi. They were both chosen for their campaigns for children and young people’s right to education. Malala became the youngest ever recipient of the Prize of 95 winners in total, and she was the 16th woman to receive the Prize.

Malala’s Story – BBC News Video

Reflections on the Courage of Malala Yousafzai

Malala, at only age 17, has become globally recognized as an activist for girl’s education. She has stood up for what she feels is not right, given speeches to leading officials around the world to share her views and is wise beyond her years. She reminds me that we cannot put someone into a neat box with a label simply because she or he is a teenager; Malala is intelligent, well spoken and has amazing insight into women’s rights.

She has certainly come a long way from writing under a pseudonym in a BBC blog, as well. Now she proudly says her name and has even written an autobiography that inspires girls and women of all ages. Regarding using a pseudonym, I considered doing that when I first started to publish online. I was fearful that my ex would find out about my writing goals and want to squash them out of vengeance. But, then I thought about my rights to say what I feel and to be myself; that feeling of being able to speak my mind in a respectful way outweighed my fears. I chose not to use a pseudonym.

As for girl’s education and women’s rights in general, one quote from Malala Yousafzai has resonated with me. She said, “I speak not for myself but for those without a voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” I applaud you, Malala, and thank you for using your public platform to help others who don’t have access to education, regardless of gender. And, I thank you for having a strong drive toward making peace a reality.

She is a wonderful representative, doing so much for others. I think about where this young, powerful woman will be in ten years and I smile; the world is a better place for Malala being in it.

Special Mention

I would like to thank Aquileana of La Audacia de Aquiles for helping me with this special post. Aquileana completed much of the research for it and suggested the video, as well. Thank you so much!

Malala Yousafzai Quote

Inspirational quote by Malala Yousafzai.

©2014 Christy Birmingham

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89 thoughts on “Spotlight on Women’s Rights Activist Malala Yousafzai

  1. Stunning post… An excellent tribute to the bravest girl in the World as Christiane Amanpour called her once in an interview at CNN…
    A young woman who was praised internationally for writing about the Taliban atrocities in a BBC service blog. A Symbol of resistance and overcoming who fights against extremism and inequality…
    I love the post here and also liked that you included trackbacks and the BBc video…
    Your insights regarding education as a progressive force leading to development are ready-witted. You are right when you mention that she is not only an advocate of girls education, but of women’s rights in general… And if I am allowed to take it further I would say that her struggles are also related with the needs and imperatives of many countries in the Third World…
    Standing ovation to her for being laureate with the Nobel Peace Price.
    Thank you Chris for this encouraging and inspirational post.You did it beautifully!.
    I also appreciate that you mentioned me… It was a pleasure to help you a little bit with the research. Many hugs and best wishes to you!, Aquileana 😛

    • Hi Aquileana,
      Thank you for such a beautiful, well-penned comment here! I again also say thanks for the help with the research, photos and video suggestion. I love working with you!

      Indeed, you are quite right in explaining Malala is like a symbol – yesterday I spoke with someone who likened her to Mother Teresa. The way she speaks at age 17 makes me realize she has an old soul that will have a magnificent impact on the world – even more so than now – in the coming years!

      Your words are wonderful and truly touched my heart, Aqui.

      Much love,
      Christy

  2. Thank you for your spotlight on this amazing young woman, Christy! And great teamwork with Aquileana 🙂

    I commend you for your decision to write under your own name, Christy. You are a beautiful, strong woman of courage!

    Graciela

    • Thank you very much, Graciela. On behalf of Christy and on my behalf.
      I am truly glad that you liked this tribute to Malala and enjoyed the collaboration!.
      By the way I am with you regarding Christy’s decision to write under her own name…
      Best wishes, Aquileana 😀

  3. Thank you for this incredible post Christy! An amazing young woman pursuing rights for women and education for girls. Regardless of the awards and recognition she is a light of inspiration. We all have the right to speak up and stand up for what we believe in and if nobody believes in you, as long as you believe in yourself, you stand 10ft. tall in heart, mind, and spirit.

  4. Thank you, Christy, for spotlighting such an inspirational young woman who has made such an impact by her courage to promote the right of girls to an education. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Regards,
    Linnea

  5. Malala’s story is incredibly touching. As always, great things happen when you and Aquileana team-up to create posts. I listened to the audiobook of her memoir last winter and was excited so when she recently became the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

  6. My dear friends … This has been a truly inspirational and motivational story … It’s hurtful to see that the previlages we take for granted are still restricted to many many women out there… I see glamorous pictures of women all over, sadly we do not care to look at the ugly truth that’s hidden by the flashes of glamour .. I respect people who are brave enough and selfless to fight for the right no matter the path … Thank you for sharing this Christy and Aquilena …We really do need people like Malala …

  7. Christy, thank you for posting this very inspirational story about Malala. Her story is one of bravery, incredible motivation, and determination. I have reblogged this post.

  8. Thank you for this post Christy! Malala is an amazing young woman pursuing rights for women and education for girls. She is an icon, a symbol of the struggle of many women
    Her story is one of bravery, incredible motivation, and determination.

    Regards,
    Verónica

  9. Reblogged this on 21 Shades of Blue and commented:
    Awesome blog on a women’s rights to education activist, by my friends Christy and Aquileana. I enjoyed the information, it being a personal point of interest for me, and I recommend reading it! One of my heroes (and my Great-Great-Great-Granduncle, who I look a lot like), D. Pat Henderson, was a champion for women’s rights to education in the 1800’s, and one of the 3 founders of one of the first world-class (at the time) all-women colleges in 1851. I blogged about him last year at http://21shadesofblue.com/2013/11/15/d-pat-henderson-1800s-man-of-strange-charisma-my-great-great-great-granduncle-role-model/

  10. Great post, and an amazing woman (at 17) to highlight on “When Women Inspire” Thank you Christy and Aquileana for your wonderful collaboration.
    Christy is right, Malala has just begun her life’s work.
    I love this blog!

  11. When times are the darkest, there comes a brilliant light that illuminates our world with a message of hope, joy, courage and determination. The message is clear and reaches deep into our collective consciousness, awakening us to a call to action. Thank you, Christy and Aquileana for sharing your thoughts. The comments and dialogue were life-affirming and will raise awareness within our global community.

  12. We each have a voice; some to stand like Malala, some like yours, some like mine. What strength it takes to do as we ought. We could hide; we could choose otherwise. It gives me great heart to see us doing as our heart’s command. Only in this way shall we have the world we want to enjoy.
    A fabulous post, indeed.

  13. Dear Aq and Christy. Of course I would read this post. Thanks for google messaging me Aq! I am usually up to date with reading your blogs but my mother has passed away and there is much going on, hence, I will be scarce for the next few days. I am delighted to read this post of a most courageous girl. You two are excellent collaborators together on this wonderful site.! Christy, I will have that post ready for you next week! 🙂 Peace and love to you girls! xo

  14. Hi Christy,

    Congratulations for understanding the cause, which Malala stands for. She is just a grain in the sands of those countries, which suppress girls, snatch away their rights, marry them off against their wishes and compel them into the world of oblivion, not even allowing them to get acquainted with their rights. Can you imagine that there are thousands of such girls who never get proper education, health care and food!

    It is so heartening to note that people around the globe are getting acquainted with the kind of life a girl child has to lead in the economically and educationally backwards nations of the world…not to mention the way they get killed in the womb before they see the light of this world.

    Thanks for highlighting the cause this brave, noble prize winner stands for.

    • Balroop, thank you for the amazing comment you have left here. You are so right that women around the world are facing tough times, and that is why I think this site is so important. It’s about educating, helping and holding hands. HUGS!

      I hope in the future you will be kind enough to write a post here as a guest writer. I would love to read more of your insights!

  15. You paint with a broad brush Christy – well done. From the book I’m struck by how Malala’s thoughts are often expressed in the typical teenage manner of simple logic or black&white terms, e.g. ‘General Zia brought in Islamic laws which reduced a woman’s evidence in court to count for only half that of a man’s’. Disbelief! Nonsensical! The math doesn’t add up! I have to laugh. Imagine how far outside the square it takes for a sixteen y.o. to Pakistani country girl to think, not to mind express that. Laudable indeed Christy.

    • Ah yes, Mike. It’s interesting isn’t it how some parts of our minds grow up faster than other parts… Plus our interpretations of words fascinates me often. Thank you for the insightful comment!

  16. A courageous young lady indeed! She had aspirations for the education of girls in her home country, Pakistan. So now, she is able to express herself more openly having moved to the UK. Thank you for sharing this post, Christy. 🙂

  17. Pingback: Greek Mythology: “The Horae”.- | La Audacia de Aquiles

  18. Once in a blue moon, we get to witness heroes in action – Malala’s is a case in point. Turning a traumatic experience into a global learning opportunity is something we need to learn from her.

  19. Pingback: For International Women’s Day 2017: 5 Women Reaching for Gender Equality | When Women Inspire

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