Courage is defined as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, and pain, without fear. In essence this person is brave. Bravery comes in different forms. It could be the brave firemen that charged the World Trade Center in 2001, or the local police officer that risks his or her life every time they pull someone over on the side of the road.
Bravery can also be someone who stands up for what they believe in with life threatening consequences. Imagine a gunman asking for your name and then pointing a pistol at you and firing three shots. One traveling under your skin and through the length of your face and into your shoulder. All because you are an advocate for female education. Malala Yousafzai was a 15 year old girl when that happened to her on October 9, 2012, when she was attempted to be assassinated by the Taliban.
American girls and women have the privilege of going to school and receiving an education, without immediate threat or intimidation not to. But there are countries in the world where that does occur. At the time Malala and girls in her area of Pakistan were being told not to go to school and intimidated by force. Malala decided to do something that many would consider brave and blog about her experiences and cover the Taliban’s growing influence in Swat. She blogged for the BBC Urdu website for the blog, Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl. At the time she began blogging, the Taliban were taking over the Swat Valley banning television, music, girl’s education and women from going shopping. Malala used a pseudonym for safety reasons, and her blog was published under the byline, Gul Makai.
"I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taliban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools."
- Malala Yousafzai January 3, 2009 BBC Blog
“It seems that it is only when dozens of schools have been destroyed and hundreds others closed down that the army things about protecting them. Had they conducted their operations here properly this situation would not have arisen."
- Malala Yousafzai January 24, 2009 BBC Blog
Since Malala became more known because of her appearances and advocacy, her life also became in more danger. She received death treats against her published in newspapers and threatening messages on Facebook. All of those threats preceded the assassination attempt by the Taliban.
To this day Malala continues to fight for female education across the globe. In 2015 she opened a school in Lebanon for Syrian refugees, that offers education and training to girls aged 14 to 18. She co-founded the Malala Fund with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, with the hopes of empowering girls to achieve their potential and become confident and strong leaders in their own countries through education. According to the Nobelprize.org, The Malala Fund has “education projects in six countries, works with international and local partners to invest in innovative solutions on the ground and advocates globally for quality of secondary education for all girls.”
She has also been awarded and received honors, including wining the National Youth Peace Prize in 2011, The Rome Prize for Peace and Humanitarian Action in 2012, The Clinton Global Citizens Awards in 2013, The Philadelphia Liberty Medal and more. While also being recognized as Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the year in 2013 and one of Time Magazines, “The Most Influential Teens of 2014.”
Besides all of the recognition and awards, Malala has done more than any award could represent. She has contributed and brought more awareness to the conversation of global education for girls. She has also empowered girls all over the world to fight for their right to go to school and receive an education. Malala is not only someone who is brave, but also inspirational.