Malala Yousafzai

Find out more about the 16 year old activist and inspiration!

Written by James Mulhall


Malala received the Tipperary Peace Prize and it seems the whole world has gone Malala crazy in the last few months. The young girl is all over the news and  social media sites – but who is she? And what does she do? Here’s what you need to know about her.

Malala Yousafzai is a 16-year-old women’s rights and education activist from Pakistan. She gained fame last October when she was shot in the head at point-blank range by the Taliban for speaking out against the strict Pakistani women’s laws. She began speaking out back in 2008, televised saying the controversial line: “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”.  She then became a blogger for BBC Urdu when a reporter for the BBC gave her the opportunity to write about life under the Taliban. As she became more well-known, Malala began to receive death threats. Her assassination attempt led to the media worldwide covering her case and promoting her cause.

Malala’s blog for BBC Urdu had been anonymous for years but when her identity was revealed, she was in danger. She was one of the few girls in her school that turned up for class every day, despite the dangers involved with the strict Taliban regime against women in education.

Malala recently addressed the UN's Youth Assembly, watch here:

They had blown up several girls schools and from January 2009, they banned all girls from attending. Malala did not allow this to stand in her way and remained in school. The ban was later lifted. Malala was on her way home from school on the evening of October 9, 2012, when a Taliban gunman boarded her bus and shot her at point blank range in the head. Miraculously, the bullet merely grazed her brain after going through her head, neck and ending up in her shoulder.

She was brought to a military hospital in Peshawar for emergency treatment. Though she had had a lucky escape, her brain began to swell from the damage she had received in the attack. A portion of her skull was removed to allow the brain to swell without causing her any permanent damage. Offers from all over the world were flooding in to treat Malala and she was eventually transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Malala and her family remain in the UK and she returned to school in March.

Since the assassination attempt, her support has soared. She is a nominee for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, she won Pakistan’s first ever National Youth Peace Prize and just last week she was awarded the Tipperary International Peace Prize. In her acceptance speech in Tipperary she bravely stated that she did not want to be remembered as the girl shot by the Taliban but as the girl who fought for women’s right to education.

Malala continues to speak publicly for women’s right to education and will return to Ireland in September to be honoured at an Amnesty International event.

SpunOut's founder, Ruairi McKiernan, attended the Tipperary peace award event and recorded Malala's acceptance speech. You can listen to it below:


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