KARACHI: A brave heart Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has turned 22 on July 12 (today).
Named after Malalai of Maiwand, a 19th-century Afghani poet and warrior, Malala was born on July 12, 1997, in the picturesque Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan.
The only daughter of Ziauddin, school owner and educational activist, and Toor Pekai, she was raised in the village of Mingora alongside her two younger brothers.
In 2007, the Taliban occupied the Swat region and imposed strict Islamic law, banning women from public life and bulldozing girls’ schools.
Malala was just 11 years old when she accompanied her father to the local Press Club and gave her first, impassioned speech in support of girls’ education.Already fluent in English, she began writing a blog for the BBC about life for children under Taliban rule.
The increasing violence forced the Yousafzai’s to flee their home in 2009, along with thousands of other families.
On October 9, 2012, a masked gunman shot Malala in the neck and head, injuring two of her friends, as they rode home in a bus after school exams.
She would wake in a Birmingham Hospital several days later.
The young activist was targeted over her outspoken support for equality and education for Pakistani women.
Just nine months into her recovery – on her 16th birthday – a defiant Malala addressed the United Nations’ in New York.
The following year she became the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize – aged 17 – for her fight “for the right of all children to receive an education”.
Malala is currently studying a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University.