Yesterday, marked the triumphant return of Malala Yousafzai to school for the first time since her attempted assassination last October. Malala, 15, has made an almost miraculous recovery from being shot in the head and neck while riding home in a car from school. Released from a hospital in Birmingham, England, earlier this month, Malala will finally be getting back to her favorite thing–education. Though she will not be returning to her home country of Pakistan, she is excited to begin her life in England.
Often described as an old soul, the young girl is nothing short of inspiring. Beginning her fearless campaign at only 11 years old, she has dedicated her life to fighting for girls to have a right to a safe education. Her efforts started in Pakistan when the Taliban officially ordered a ban on education for girls and women in 2009. The Taliban believes that women and girls should not even be able to leave the house, and they won’t hesitate to enforce this belief. Malala blogged anonymously for the BBC and publicly denounced Pakistan’s continual oppression of girls and women; she even declared plans to create her own political party–all because she wanted to go to school.
Her unwavering audacity landed the child on the Taliban’s official hit list.
The United Nations estimates that around 32 million girls are uneducated worldwide, a whopping 10 percent in Pakistan alone. Undeterred by the horrific assassination attempt, Malala has pledged to advocate for girls everywhere so no one will have to face death for going to school. In February, when she was regaining her speech, she showed no signs of backing down:
God has given me a new life. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated.
Pakistan’s army chief called her “an icon of courage and hope” right after the attack last year, and the country has since vowed to take down and prosecute her attackers to the highest degree. The United Nations has also deemed her birthday the official “Malala Day”. Her father, Ziuaddin Yousafzai, was appointed to the Pakistani consulate in England as the head of the education section, and has proudly called Malala “the daughter of the whole world,” declaring that his daughter’s brave actions have called attention globally to the attack on education rights.
Even though change isn’t occuring as fast as anyone wants, Malala stands strong and refuses to back down. In 2011, she expressed with simplicity and clarity what she not just wants but deserves:
I have the right to education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to the market. I have the right to speak up.
Seriously, you go girl.