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At the age of just 17, Malala is the youngest ever recipient of the coveted Nobel Peace prize. The teenager was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in October 2012 for campaigning for girls’ education. She revealed she found out the news of being a Nobel laureate after being called out of her chemistry class at her school in Birmingham. The Pakistani nation feels proud of their youngest Nobel laureate who brought home the second Nobel Prize. Pakistan’s first Nobel Prize recipient was Dr. Abdus Salam who received the prize in the field of Physics.
Malala Yousafzai began campaigning for girls’ education at the age of 11, three years before she was shot by the Taliban. She was so young that some observers questioned how well equipped a child of that age could be to put her own safety on the line and commit to a life of activism. The prize she received on Friday validates what she has taken on, but also underscores the disproportionate expectations that trail her: Can she truly influence the culture of her own home country, which she cannot even visit because of threats to her safety, and where many revile her as a tool of the West?
Her shooting brought global condemnation of the Pakistani Taliban. The 17-year-old schoolgirl rose to prominence in 2009 with a blog for the BBC’s Urdu-language service that described life in Swat under Taliban rule. Later, she was featured in a documentary by The New York Times. Malala became a spokeswoman for female education and appeared on television and in the news, sometimes with her father, who had gained a reputation as one of the few people who had resisted the Taliban. The teenager, who spoke out against the Taliban’s opposition to education for girls, focused attention on the plight of women and girls around the world who are struggling for education and social freedoms under repressive regimes. Her family, who traveled to Birmingham from their home in Pakistan, may now stay in Britain, where her father, Ziauddin, a school headmaster, has accepted a three-year position as education attaché at the Pakistani Consulate in Birmingham, making it unlikely that the family will return to Pakistan anytime soon. In any event, it may be too dangerous, because the Taliban have vowed to attack her again.