Two years ago on October 9th, a masked gunman boarded a school bus in northern Pakistan’s Swat Valley and asked the terrified students onboard: “Who is Malala?” He was referring to Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old girl who bravely defied the Taliban to speak out against them and for her right to go to school.
Instinctually, Malala’s friends looked at her, and then the gunman shot the teenage activist. A bullet ripped through her head, neck and shoulder, but the assassination attempt didn’t stop Malala or silence her message. In fact, it made her mission stronger: after she was shot, over 2 million Pakistanis signed a petition, which helped lead to the ratification of the country’s first Right to Education bill.
Now 17 years old, Malala is a global advocate for the rights of girls and their education through her non-profit, the Malala Fund. On October 10th, she was named the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient along with children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. And, as the United Nations celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child this Saturday, her simple yet profound words to empower girls through education is an important message for the world to hear.