The Nobel Prize has awarded plenty of world-renowned men and women – but their youngest laureate was a 17-year-old Pakistani girl with a vision and a mission: Malala Yousafzai.
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On October 9, 2012, a 15-year-old Malala was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, who tried to kill her for promoting girls' education in Pakistan's Swat Valley. After weeks in intensive care, Malala survived and went on to become a force to be reckoned with, using the spotlight to further shine a light on girls’ education.
Here are five facts about the youngest-ever Nobel laureate that may surprise you:
1. Pakistan passed a Right to Education Bill after Malala was shot
After the attack, over 2 million people signed a petition demanding the right to free education for girls in the country. The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill was ratified in Pakistan a few months after she was shot, and a $10 million education fund was also announced by the Pakistani president in her honour.
2. Malala was fearless long before the shooting
When she was 11 years old, Malala wrote a journal that was regularly published by BBC Urdu, under the pseudonym Gul Makai. In it, she discussed life (and specifically education) under the Taliban. She knew that she would be in grave danger if her identity were to be revealed, but continued to write and educate individuals about the conditions schoolgirls – and girls out of school – faced.
3. She launched the Malala Fund
In 2013, the Malala Fund was established to ensure that the access to education for girls around the world sees tangible results beyond her words. Through investments in local educators and advocates, the Fund inspires others to step up and be the ‘Malalas’ of their communities.
4. She is an Ivy League graduate
In Pakistan, Malala attended Khushaal Public School, which was previously run by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai. After relocating to England for her own safety, she studied at the prestigious Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham, before attending Oxford University, where she earned a philosophy, politics and economics degree.
5. She has many things named after her
Although the Taliban wanted to silence her voice, Malala’s name is now known all around the world. There is now a Malala Yousafzai Public School in Caledon, Canada, and a Malala Elementary school in Texas, US. In 2017, British astronomers selected a new set of shapes for constellations and named it after her, and just two years prior, US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) named an asteroid after Malala.