Malala Yousafzai is a 14 year old activist living in the Swat valley of Pakistan. Her mission is to see that girls have access to education. She and her father have publicly defied the Taliban who have moved into the valley and now she has paid a price.
The Taliban shot her in the head and neck. Not only that but if she lives and continues to protest, they vow to do it again because she is a “secular-minded lady”.
Ms. Yousafzai came to public attention in 2009 as the Pakistani Taliban swept through Swat, a picturesque valley once famed for its culture of music and tolerance and as a destination for honeymooning couples.
Her father ran one of the last schools to defy Taliban orders to end female education. As an 11-year-old, his daughter Malala — named after a mythic female figure in Pashtun culture — wrote an anonymous blog documenting her experiences for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
“I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taliban,” she wrote in one post titled “I Am Afraid.”
Later in 2009, the army launched a sweeping operation against the Taliban in the area, displacing many militants into neighboring districts or across the border into Afghanistan.
Ms. Yousafzai continued to grow in prominence, becoming a powerful voice for the rights of children in the conflict-affected area. In 2011, she was nominated for an International Children’s Peace Prize; later, Yousaf Raza Gilani, the prime minister at the time, awarded her Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.
In recent months, she led a delegation of children’s rights activists, sponsored by Unicef, that made representations to provincial politicians in Peshawar.
“We found her to be very bold, and it inspired every one of us,” said another student in the group, Fatima Aziz, 15.
“She had this vision, big dreams, that she was going to come into politics and bring about change,” said Ms. Minallah, the documentary maker.
She won a national peace prize last year. Right now, she’s in critical condition and has been transported to another hospital for treatment. Let’s hope she pulls through so she can keep helping her friends and defy the enemies of women.
It looks like this assassination attempt, where a couple other girls were also wounded, may have just been the tipping point with the Pakistanis against the Taliban.