Oct. 10, 2014, Malala Yousafzai was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts against the Taliban and to help women get an education. She is the youngest person to receive the award and also the first Pakistani.
During her victory speech, delivered in Birmingham, England, Yousafzai said, “A girl has the power to go forth with her life. She is not just a mother. She is not only a sister. She is not only a wife, but a girl has an identity. She should be recognized, and she has equal rights as a boy.”
Adam B. Ellick showed Yousafzai’s story to the public through a 2009 documentary. It followed her family for months in their fight against the Taliban. Yousafzai believes that all people deserve an education and to be treated fairly. The documentary displays gruesome images of people being beheaded and beaten for demanding simple human rights.
Yousafzai and her father put their lives on the line so young girls could continue to be educated. She began her process wanting to be a doctor and ended with the intense drive to be a politician, determined to change her circumstances. The documentary ended with Yousafzai’s family cleaning up her school, which was occupied by Taliban soldiers, and it seemed like no progress was made.
Meanwhile, Yousafzai didn’t stop her efforts to give women the right to an education after the film was made. In 2012, she was shot in the head by the Taliban to stop her efforts for equal rights. She wasn’t killed, and she didn’t allow that to stop her determination.
This past June, a youth program called Harlem Educational Activities Fund took 16 high school students on a learning trip to Stockholm, Sweden. While in Sweden, the students visited the Nobel Museum. One student, Elizabeth Boahen, 15, was affected greatly by the trip and even more by Yousafzai’s triumph.
“It’s one of my dreams to be one of the Nobel laureates. I never actually took the time to look up if there were a lot of females or people of color because I felt like it didn’t really matter. Actually being there [at the Nobel Museum] and seeing the scarcity of it shook me a little bit. It changed the way I see the award.”
She continued, “It seems like it would discourage me, but it actually pushes me more. Malala winning a Nobel Prize definitely boosted me up. Being that she is so young and she is a person of color and she is a female, that definitely was big for me. She is doing something that she really cares about and nearly died for.”
Not only does Yousafzai make great triumphs for education, but she also inspires young people to accomplish goals they may have not have known were possible.