In 2012, Malala Yousafzai was targeted by the Taliban to be assassinated. Malala was only 14 at the time, but she was thought to be a major threat to the terrorist group that had control of her hometown Swat, Pakistan. This is because she had been advocating for girls’ education and equality since 2007, after nearly all of the girls schools in the country had been blown up or shut down.
Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, valued education and instilled in his daughter a love and desire to learn at a very young age. He aided her determination to speak out on the state of her country, and in 2008, Malala began blogging about her life under the Taliban for the BBC. Her and her father’s lives were soon featured in a New York Times documentary.
In 2011, the Taliban retreated in Pakistan and Malala was able to attend school again. She continued to publicly campaign for girls’ education and soon won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. She soon discovered that she was a target of the Taliban but she did not let the fear conquer her.
In 2012, a masked gunman boarded Malala’s school bus. After identifying her, the man shot her in the head, neck, and shoulder. Malala miraculously survived and was immediately transported to the UK where she received life-saving treatments and underwent months of rehabilitation.
When she was 16, Malala appeared on the Daily Show to discuss her book, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. Here is what she had to say about her fears on the Taliban before she was almost killed:
“If [the Tali] comes, what would you do, Malala? I would reply, Malala just take a shoe and hit him.” The crowd giggles with her at this thought. “But then I said, if you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you, and the Talib…We need to fight, but through peace, dialogue and education.”
Since then, Malala has taken advantage of her platform to continue her fight for girls’ education. At 16, she established the Malala Fund, an organization that advocates for every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education. The fund was immediately endorsed by Vital Voices, Angelina Jolie, and the World Woman Foundation. At 17, Malala became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and at 19 she became the youngest person to be named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Apple has recently partnered with the Malala Fund, and with their support, the organization hopes to expand their projects to India and Latin America, which could affect the lives of over 100,000 girls.
“My dream is for every girl to choose her own future,” said Malala. “Through both their innovations and philanthropy, Apple has helped educate and empower people around the world.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook, who also joined the Malala Fund leadership council, called Malala “one of the most inspiring figures of our time.” He also said that Apple shares the Malala Fund’s commitment to give every girl an opportunity to go to school.
Malala’s story is an inspiration to all men and women across the globe, but it is not unique to her. “It is the story of many girls,” she says. Today, over 130 million girls are out of school. To donate to the Malala Fund or find out what you can do to help, click here.
Sign Up For Our Newsletter