Education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban when she was 15, announced yesterday that she had been offered a place at the University of Oxford. During the flurry of A-level result activity, 20 year-old Malala published a screenshot of her university acceptance on Twitter, saying ‘So excited to go to Oxford!! Well done to all A-level students – the hardest year. Best wishes for life ahead!’
Malala has defied all odds to receive her education and campaigns for other girls across the world to have the same right. She was born in the Swat region of Pakistan where, under fleeting Taliban control, girls were banned from going to school.
From a very young age, Malala was a passionate advocate for the right of girls to be educated. Her father, an educator, shared her passion and vision. When the Taliban took control of her region, girls were banned from attending school. Aged just 11 and at great personal risk, she spoke out by blogging anonymously for BBC Urdu. When Pakistani forces regained control of the region, girls returned to school. However, while the Taliban were weakened, they were not fully driven out of the area. Threatened by Malala’s activism and growing global prominence, the Taliban decided she must be disposed of. A Taliban gunman shot her in the head when she was 15, as she was returning home from school on a bus. After 8 days in a coma, she was transferred to the UK to receive treatment and has remained here ever since.
According to global education movement, ONE, 130 million girls are currently denied an education. As the UN Messenger of Peace and the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala campaigns fervently to change this shocking statistic and ensure more girls can go to school. She published her international bestselling book, ‘I am Malala’ in 2013 and set up the Malala Fund in 2014. The charity, which is ‘working for a world where every girl can learn and lead without fear’, funds projects in countries such as Pakistan, Nigeria, India and Afghanistan to provide more girls with a school place.
Malala’s story is one of incredible human spirit and perseverance in the bleakest of circumstances. Her passion and dedication to help others is an example to us all. There is still a very long way to go before we see universal equality in education, but Malala’s Oxford acceptance gives hope to girls everywhere.