#WOMENSHISTORYMONTH: Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in the Swat District of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the Taliban in the area banned girls from attending school. Raised by a Sunni Muslim family, she is notable for her efforts as a human, women, education rights advocate.

The name Malala means "grief stricken" after Malalai of Maiwand, a famous poetess and warrior from Southern Afghanistan. Her last name, Yousafzai, is from the large Pashtun tribal confederation that is common in the Swat Valley. Malala is fluent in English, Pashto, and Urdu.

In an interview, she mentions that her father wanted her to politician, but her dreams were to be a doctor. He saw something special in his daughter from the late nights they spent talking about politics as her brothers slept.

In 2008, BBC Urdu covered the growing influence in the Swat District, looking for a school girl to blog about her daily life. They came in contact with Mr. Yousafzai, who recommended his daughter write the articles. Malala wrote about the Taliban and their continued efforts to destroy schools. In 2009, her identity was revealed, and she began making appearances in mainstream media. In 2011, Archbishop Desmond Tutu nominated Malala for the International Children's Peace Prize from the Kids Rights Foundation.

By 2012, Malala began to receive threats on Facebook. On the 9th of October, a Taliban gunman shot Malala on her bus ride home from school. A single bullet shot Malala in the head, neck, and shoulder, while injuring two more girls on the bus.

After five hours of surgery to remove the bullet and relieve brain swelling, she was sent to Germany for enhanced medical attention. As she slipped into a two day coma, supporters from around the world offered help to Malala and her family.

In January of 2013, a healed Malala was released from the hospital, and resumed her position as a global advocate.

Malala has received widespread support and recognition from all over the world. A city in Northeastern France has a day dedicated to her passion, and murals of Malala cover walls of Rome. She has received the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament, the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice, the Rome Prize for Peace and Humanitarian Action, the National Youth Peace Prize, and was declared one of the100 Most Influential People in the World in 2013.

As her father predicted, Malala has decided to become a politician for the future of Pakistan. During her meeting with President Obama, she expressed her concerns about drone attacks fueling terrorism in her homeland. Although her main goal is to fight for girls education in Pakistan, Malala vows to continue to inspire beyond the Pakistani borders.

Malala is not only a survivor of terrorism, but a symbol of strength for young girls everywhere. She has proven that the voice of reason and inspiration is stronger than oppression. 

Alexander Walker-Griffin, Head Messenger