Malala Yousafzai

Activist Type
Human Rights

Malala Yousafzai is Pakistani human rights advocate and activist for female education focusing primarily on the education of women and children from Swat Valley. She was inspired by her father, an educator, and advocate, who believed that his women should have every equal opportunity as men especially in regard to education. During the Taliban occupation of Swat, Malala began blogging for the BBC under the pseudonym, “Gul Makai”, where she described her experiences with the banning of girls from attending schools. Her blog made headlines the following year and Malala was featured in a documentary by The New York Times about her life during the reoccupation of the region by the Pakistani military. Her popularity and prominence following the documentary lead to Malala publicly campaigning for girls to go to school and ultimately winning Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.

Malala soon became a target due to speaking against the Taliban and on October 12, 2012, Malala and two other women were shot by a Taliban gunman while on a bus in the Swat District. Her assassination attempt led to an international support for Malala and female rights. After intensive rehabilitation and recovery, Malala began the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization continuing the fight for education. In recognition of her work United Nations declared July 12 “Malala Day” and in 2014, she received the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian activist, Kailash Satyarthi, for her fight against the oppression of children and women’s education rights. At 17, Malala was the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. The following year she was featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary He Named Me Malala and was named by Time as one of the most globally influential people. Malala is the author of a memoir titled, I am Malala and in 2017, she created a children’s picture book titled Malala’s Magic Pencil.

Artwork by
Jessica Barbon

Inspired by Pakistan’s colorful truck art – usually featuring a saint surrounded by florals, flourishes, and symbols that represent their life story – this piece showcases facets of Malala's journey in a single tile: the beautiful mountains from her homeland, Swat Valley; her childhood pet chicken, taken from her in a Taliban attack; a blue school uniform dress, which she stopped wearing in order to continue her education without being caught; and most importantly her books – the reason behind her many accomplishments.


Pakistan Flag
August 14, 1947
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