The youngest Nobel Prize laureate turns 23 today.
Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban while sitting on a school bus in 2012. She survived — and used her voice to champion women’s empowerment and ensure every girl, everywhere has access to an education.
Since then, Malala has spoken before the U.N., written an autobiography, and won both the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and the Nobel Peace Prize. And she hasn’t backed down on her relentless dedication to empowering women and girls around the world.
“I am stronger than fear.”
“Even ıf ı am a gırl, even ıf people thınk ı can’t do ıt, ı should not lose hope.”
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
“With guns you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism.”
“We were scared, but our fear was not as strong as our courage.”
“Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.”
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. they are afraid of women.”
“Once I had asked God for one or two extra inches in height, but instead he made me as tall as the sky, so high that I could not measure myself.”
“I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”
“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.”
“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”
“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow.” Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”
“If people volunteered in the same way to construct schools or roads or even clear the river of plastic wrappers, by God, Pakistan would become a paradise within a year.”
“To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish. I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.”
“Though we loved school, we hadn’t realized how important education was until the Taliban tried to stop us. Going to school, reading and doing our homework wasn’t just a way of passing time, it was our future.”
“I reassured my mother that it didn’t matter to me if my face was not symmetrical. Me, who had always cared about my appearance, how my hair looked! But when you see death, things change. “It doesn’t matter if I can’t smile or blink properly,” I told her. “I’m still me, Malala. The important thing is God has given me my life.”
“Education is our basic right. Not just in the West; Islam too has given us this right. Islam says every girl and every boy should go to school. In the Quran it is written, God wants us to have knowledge. He wants us to know why the sky is blue and about oceans and stars. I know it’s a big struggle—around the world there are fifty-seven million children who are not in primary school, thirty-two million of them girls.”
“We human beings don’t realize how great God is. He has given us an extraordinary brain and a sensitive loving heart. He has blessed us with two lips to talk and express our feelings, two eyes which see a world of colours and beauty, two feet which walk on the road of life, two hands to work for us, and two ears to hear the words of love. As I found with my ear, no one knows how much power they have in their each and every organ until they lose one.”
“In Pakistan when women say they want independence, people think this means we don’t want to obey our fathers, brothers or husbands. But it does not mean that. It means we want to make decisions for ourselves. We want to be free to go to school or to go to work. Nowhere is it written in the Quran that a woman should be dependent on a man. The word has not come down from the heavens to tell us that every woman should listen to a man.”