1. This is Malala Yousafzai. She is 16.
2. She’s an advocate for educational opportunities for girls in Pakistan and throughout the world.
After this New York Times documentary in 2009, she became internationally-recognized as a leading voice for gender equality and educational opportunity.
3. On October 9, 2012, she was shot by the Taliban as she sat on a school bus.
An armed Taliban militant boarded the bus and shouted, “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all! She is propagating against the soldiers of Allah, the Taliban. She must be punished.”
She was shot in the head at point-blank range. The bullet travelled through her head and neck before lodging in her shoulder.
Malala was shot because she dares to go to school and believes all children should have that opportunity, regardless of gender.
4. Malala survived. She refused to give up or quiet down.
5. On July 12, she spoke to the UN as they recognized “Malala Day.”
Here is some of what she said.
6. “Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.”
7. “The Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices.”
8. “The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.”
9. “I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. … my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.”
10. “We realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way… we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.”
A Somali girl crosses a street on her way to school while soldiers of AMISOM’s Djiboutian contingent stand guard.
11. “The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”
12. “They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would point guns at people’s heads just for going to school.”
13. “Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems, faced by both men and women. Today I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most.”
14. “There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves.”
15. “We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education all over the world for every child. … We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of education opportunities for girls in the developing world.”
16. “We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, color, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish.”
17. “Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”
19. Full video of Malala’s speech.
More on the international campaign for the rights of women and girls available at Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project.