OTTAWA â€” Malala Yousafzai was born July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan, in the country’s Swat Valley.
Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, was an anti-Taliban activist and Malala attended a school that he founded.
After the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools in Swat, Malala gave a speech in Peshawar, Pakistan, in September 2008 entitled, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
In early 2009, Yousafzai began blogging for the BBC about life under the Taliban and their threats to her education. Although she wrote under a pseudonym, she was revealed to be the BBC blogger in December of that year.
With a growing public platform, Yousafzai continued to speak out about her right, and the right of all women, to an education. Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. That same year, she was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.
Her family soon learned that the Taliban had threatened her with death, but they felt at first that even the extremists would not harm a child.
On October 9, 2012, as 15-year-old Malala rode a bus home from school with friends on their way home from school, a masked gunman boarded the bus and asked which girl was Malala. He shot her in the head. Two other girls were also injured.
Malala was flown to a military hospital in Peshawar in critical condition. A portion of her skull was removed. She was transferred to Britain for further care.
She required multiple surgeries, but suffered no major brain damage and returned to school in Birmingham in March 2013.
The Taliban attack sparked acclaim for the young women. She spoke at the United Nations on her 16th birthday, in 2013. In October of that year, the European Parliament awarded Yousafzai the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. A year later, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.
Shortly afterwards, the Canadian House of Commons unanimously voted to bestow honorary citizenship on her in recognition of her bravery in the fight for the rights of women and girls to go to school.
On Wednesday, she was formally made an honorary citizen and addressed a joint session of Parliament.
The Canadian Press