Monday, December 14, 2015

Malala Yousafzai : Biography

Malala Yousafzai : Biography
As a young girl, Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, but survived.

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. As a child, she became an advocate for girls' education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived, and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. In  2014,  she was nominated again and won, becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Early Life
On July 12, 1997, Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan, located in the country's Swat Valley. For the first few years of her life, her hometown remained a popular tourist spot that was known for its summer festivals. However, the area began to change as the Taliban tried to take control.

Initial Activism
Yousafzai attended a school that her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, had founded. After the Taliban began attacking girls' schools in Swat, Malala gave a speech in Peshawar, Pakistan, in September 2008. The title of her talk was, "How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?"
In early 2009, Yousafzai began blogging for the BBC about living under the Taliban's threats to deny her an education. In order to hide her identity, she used the name Gul Makai. However, she was revealed to be the BBC blogger in December of that year.
With a growing public platform, Yousafzai continued to speak out about her right, and the right of all women, to an education. Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children's Peace Prize in 2011. That same year, she was awarded Pakistan's National Youth Peace Prize.

Targeted by the Taliban
When she was 14, Malala and her family learned that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her. Though Malala was frightened for the safety of her father—an anti-Taliban activist—she and her family initially felt that the fundamentalist group would not actually harm a child.

On October 9, 2012, on her way home from school, a man boarded the bus Malala was riding in and demanded to know which girl was Malala. When her friends looked toward Malala, her location was given away. The gunman fired at her, hitting Malala in the left side of her head; the bullet then traveled down her neck. Two other girls were also injured in the attack.

The shooting left Malala in critical condition, so she was flown to a military hospital in Peshawar. A portion of her skull was removed to treat her swelling brain. To receive further care, she was transferred to Birmingham, England.

After the Attack
Once she was in the United Kingdom, Yousafzai was taken out of a medically induced coma. Though she would require multiple surgeries—including repair of a facial nerve to fix the paralyzed left side of her face—she had suffered no major brain damage. In March 2013, she was able to begin attending school in Birmingham.
The shooting resulted in a massive outpouring of support for Yousafzai, which continued during her recovery. She gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday, in 2013. She has also written an autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, which was released in October 2013. Unfortunately, the Taliban still considers Yousafzai a target.
Despite the Taliban's threats, Yousafzai remains a staunch advocate for the power of education. On October 10, 2013, in acknowledgement of her work, the European Parliament awarded Yousafzai the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. That same year, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She didn't win the prize, but was named a nominee again in March 2014. In August of the same year, Leanin.Org held a live chat on Facebook with Sheryl Sandberg and Yousafzai about the importance of education for girls around the world. She talked about her story, her inspiration and family, her plans for the future and advocacy, and she answered a variety of inquiries from the social network’s users.

In October 2014, Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. At age 17, she became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In congratulating Yousafzai, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “She is (the) pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment." U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described her as "a brave and gentle advocate of peace who through the simple act of going to school became a global teacher.”

For her 18th birthday on July 12, 2015, also called Malala Day, the young activist continued to take action on global education by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon. Its expenses covered by the Malala Fund, the school was designed to admit nearly 200 girls from the ages of 14 to 18. "Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world's children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets," Yousafzai proclaimed in one of the school's classrooms.

That day, she also asked her supporters on The Malala Fund website: "Post a photo of yourself holding up your favorite book and share why YOU choose #BooksNotBullets - and tell world leaders to fund the real weapon for change, education!" The teenage activist wrote: “The shocking truth is that world leaders have the money to fully fund primary AND secondary education around the world - but they are choosing to spend it on other things, like their military budgets. In fact, if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”
In October 2015, a documentary about Yousafzai's life was released. HE NAMED ME MALALA, directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman), gives viewers an intimate look into the life of Malala, her family, and her commitment to supporting education for girls around the world.

TIFF: Malala Yousafzai Is Heroic and Human in 'He Named Me Malala'
With the documentary releasing in select theaters today, here are eight takeaways from the film that offer a more intimate picture of Malala Yousafzai.

Centered among a swarm of chaos and a crushing crowd of men stands a tiny Pakistani school girl. Her high-pitched voice explodes in protest with unwavering conviction and indignation as she demands a very simple thing: her right and the rights of all young girls to be educated.
She was the cub who dared to roar like a lion.
Mixing animation, family photos, interviews, and powerful video footage of Malala's life in Pakistan before and after the terrorizing reign of the Taliban, director Davis Guggenheim explores the extraordinary — almost seemingly preordained — life of the 18-year-old education advocate in He Named Me Malala.
But as the name suggests, Malala's narrative is not hers alone. The documentary delves into the unbreakable bond she shares with her influential former school teacher/activist father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, and how they, along with the rest of their family, adjust to their newfound fame and life in Birmingham, England.
Here are eight highlights we took away from He Named Me Malala, which made its debut at this year's Toronto Film Festival.

Malala was named after Afghan national folk hero Malalai of Maiwand.
While Malala was in her mother's womb, her father would tell her the story of 19th century female warrior Malalai of Maiwand, who inspired her fellow Pashtun soldiers in the battlefield to keep their spirits up as they fought against the British in the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
According to legend, Malalai was killed in battle, but her powerful words to the Afghan troops led them to victory. In the West, Malalai of Maiwand is compared to Joan Of Arc — the same attribution holds true for Malala, although she's referred to as a "living martyr."
Despite her prestigious accolades (she's made TIME's 100 Most Influential People list, is a national bestselling author, and the youngest co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014), Malala is, according to her two younger brothers, a "violent" terror of a sibling and often slaps them in their faces. "It's a sign of how much I love you!" Malala jokingly responds.

Malala is a daddy's girl.
Much of the emotional weight carried in the film is seen through the deeply held bond between father and daughter as they travel together to humanitarian events and missions all over the world. There are lighter moments as well, when daughter teaches an eager father how to Tweet. Her father says of their relationship, we are "one soul, two different bodies."
Malala is not bitter at the Taliban for maiming her.
Despite being paralyzed on the left side of her face and incurring hearing loss in one ear, Malala without hesitation claims she feels no anger whatsoever towards the Taliban. "Not one atom, not one proton-size angry," she asserts.

Malala is a normal teenager.
While no one would contest Malala's inner strength, she herself opens up about her vulnerabilities as a teenager starting a new life in a foreign country. She admits she's insecure that her fellow classmates may not like her and uncomfortable with how short the skirt lengths are at school.

Malala's mother is not educated.
Despite having an opportunity to go to school at age five, Malala's mother traded her school books in for five pieces of candy. In the film, Malala seems to believe that her mother's lack of education attributes to her conservatism, offering one example of how her mother tells her not to look at men directly. (Not so surprising, Malala doesn't heed the advice.)

Malala's father has a speech disorder.
Ziauddin Yousafzai suffers from stammering, but as Malala points out proudly, her father doesn't back down; instead of skipping the word that's causing the problem, he stammers through it. Despite his handicap, her father rose up as a rebellious community leader in their hometown and a staunch activist against the Taliban. "If I keep silent, I should better die than exist," he's said.

Malala doesn't like to discuss her suffering.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the film is when director Davis Guggenheim points out Malala's evasiveness whenever he asks about her suffering. When he gently presses her on the subject, she laughs uncomfortably. She doesn't offer an explanation. 
What's communicated from the silent exchange between subject and filmmaker is open to interpretation. Nonetheless, you're reminded that behind her steely spirit and insurmountable courage, Malala is still very much human.



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