Malala Yousafzai grew up in the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan. From the age of 10, she has campaigned for the rights of girls to receive an education. At 15, she was shot by the Taliban while traveling home from school. Since the attack, she has become internationally known for her courage in refusing to be silenced and continuing her fight for the right of everyone to receive an education.
Malala received the Skoll Global Treasure Award in 2014 and shared these reflections with Skoll World Forum delegates:
“In my short life, I have witnessed so many issues that girls, and women, and poor people are facing. I have witnessed children spending their days collecting garbage, and then selling the garbage to feed their families. I have seen brutal extremism and discrimination, where men do not want women to be free, to raise their voices, to show their faces, where they do not want girls to go to school.
In Swat, I saw some people—terrorists—who were scared of the power of education, and they blasted more than 400 schools. They did not want girls to be educated, because they knew that education was powerful, stronger than any other weapon.
At that time we raised our voices for our rights. We did not let them intimidate us. We kept struggling, and ultimately, we won. Truth won. Justice won. Humanity won.
In my country, many children are deprived of education. The reason is not only terrorism, but cultural norms and traditions, child labor, child trafficking, and poverty that keeps children from going to school and becoming who they are.
My ambition is to work for education and peace—the two things that I have been deprived of in my life—and to struggle for women’s rights and equality.
We can succeed, by promising to ourselves that we will fight for the rights of every person. That we will fight for peace, justice, and harmony, so that we can move forward and create a better world.”