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Education

15 times that Malala nailed it

Flickr: Junaidrao
My girl Malala. I could not be more excited about the fact that she has been named one of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winners. At only 17 years old, she’s accomplished more than most people will in their lifetimes. Besides being chosen for one of the most prestigious and honorable international awards (casual), she's stood up to the Taliban (oh so casual), and given so many speeches that there are too many quotable moments to count. It would be impossible to make list of ALL of her achievements, but here are my top 15 times Malala flat out nailed it.

1. She started blogging with BBC Urduin 2009 under the pen name Gul Makai. Malala’s first entry was titled, “I am afraid.” She wrote about how she was afraid to walk to school because of the Taliban’s ban on educating girls. She was one of the only voices that spoke out about the issue. She started out anonymous because writing under her name would have basically sentenced her to death. But this was just the start of her road to awesomeness.

Flickr: United Nations Information Centres

2. Later in 2009, Malala was featured in a New York Times documentary and talked about her passion for education, while speaking out against the Taliban’s rule.

3. The Nobel Peace Prize isn't the first award Malala has received. To name a few she was awarded the National Youth Peace Prize in 2011, Amnesty International — Ambassador of Conscience Award, Pakistan’s National Peace Prize, and the list goes on.

4. What does Malala want to do when she grows up? Once she said she wishes to form her own political party bringing together people to fight for education. “My party will operate in all four provinces,” she said.

European Union 2013 - European Parliament

5. Because of Malala’s momentum and international recognition, Taliban leaders voted to kill her. On October 9, 2012 she was shot. But she survived the bullet that went through her head, neck and shoulder and came out on the other side, more empowered than ever to advocate for the rights of girls.

Paul Williams

6. She brought worldwide recognition to the issue and protests broke out across Pakistan in response to the assassination attempt made against her. The Right to Education campaign petition received over 2 million signatures and lead to the enactment of Pakistan’s first right to education bill.

Flickr: Michael Volpicelli

7. She started the Malala Fund, in order to amplify the voices of girls, advocate for policy and system changes, and invest in education at the community level.

Vicki Francis / Department for International Development

8. Malala does a pretty good job at calling people/governments out when they’re in the wrong. She gave a speech on Malala Day in Nigeria and said, “I call upon the Nigerian government to protect these students, girls and boys who are suffering from terrorism. Bring home the girls who were kidnapped with no excuses.”

9. Oh yea, minor fact...Malala has a whole day named after her. It’s just as much a way to bring awareness to female education rights as it is to celebrate her overall awesomeness.

Jennifer S. Altman / UN Women

10. On July 12, 2013 Malala gave a speech to the UN Youth Takeover that gave me goosebumps. She talked about being targeted by the Taliban and it’s clear that nothing can stand in this girl’s way. “They thought that the bullet would silence us, but they failed...Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”

11. There were so many good moments from that speech but from it also came one of my favorite Malala quotes: “Let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”

Flickr: Paul Hamiltion

12. On Malala Day 2014 she started using the hashtag #StrongerThan as a way to bring people into the conversation. She put out this video to invite people to share what they’re #StrongerThan.

13. Malala went on PBS NEWSHOUR and took questions from student journalism. She explained why she risked death for girls’ education: “In hard times we need to raise up our voice otherwise we will have to live in that terrible situation forever.”

14. Oh, also in all that spare time of hers she managed to write an autobiography of her experiences so far. It’s called I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. “My story is the story of thousands of children from around the world. I hope it inspires others to stand up for their rights,” she said.

Flickr: Junaidrao

15. She is the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. I know I've already mentioned the award, but the fact that she's the youngest awardee in history is something to qualify for my favorite Malala moments.

I could go on and on with Malala’s accomplishments and highlights of her blazing journey and we could probably update this list every month with new cool things that she has said or done. But for now I’ll end this piece with a very cool fact about how Malala was practically born into awesomeness. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, gave a TED talk earlier this year about his daughter’s path and how he too is an advocate for equal opportunities for women in education. He told us that he named Malala after a legendary freedom fighter from Afghanistan, Malalai of Maiwand. So basically, Malala was always meant to be one of the greatest people EVER and she’s never stopped proving it. Congratulations Malala!

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Alex Vinci