On October 9, 2012, a group of girls were returning home from school. Shortly after leaving Mingora, the biggest city in the Swat District in Pakistan, the bus carrying the young girls was stopped by two individuals. Once they stepped inside the bus, one of the two individuals removed his gun and began asking in earnest, “which one of you is Malala Yousafzai?” As soon as they identified her, the gunman shot Malala twice; one of the bullets hit Malala in her face and the other bullet struck her in the neck. The two men, who belong to the Pakistani Taliban, tried to kill her because Malala committed the ‘crime’ of speaking out and writing about the need for girls living in the Swat region to get an education. For her unflinching activism in spite of the great danger she was facing, Malala will be an excellent choice to be Time Magazine Person of the Year.
In 2008, the Taliban decided to prohibit girls, who lived in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, to acquire an education. With the consent of her father, Malala started to write a blog that was published by the BBC under a different name for 10 months. In her blog posts, Malala described the impact that the school ban had on her along with many of her classmates as they continued to attend their school.
After being nominated by her father for a peace prize in 2009, Malala’s identity was revealed. Her fame started to grow once it was discovered that she was the girl who wrote the BBC blog. As she became more prominent, Malala began to actively campaign for girls’ education. Because of her fierce activism, Malala was the first person to be awarded the National Peace Prize by the Pakistan government. In many Western nations, Malala’s profile was raised after the New York Times featured her in a documentary.
In their effort to prevent girls from attending schools, the Taliban took extreme measures. In a four-year span, the group destroyed hundreds of schools. Because of the widespread destruction coupled with repeated speeches by the Taliban leader in the region denouncing education for girls, a number of parents stopped sending their children to schools. Consequently, the population of girls in schools has been sharply reduced.
Notwithstanding the constant danger she faced during her campaign, 15-year-old Malala never waiver in her belief that girls have the right to receive an education. As they sought to intimidate those young girls from going to schools, the Pakistani Taliban resulted to acid attack, which ended up disfiguring the victims. Thus, the threats were ever-present whenever Malala went to school or made a public appearance where she expressed her views about the importance of education for girls. But Malala willingly put her life at risk in order to preserve the precious right to have an education not only for her but also for other girls. It is a right that many teen girls who live in more stable countries could afford to take for granted. Hence, while they would worry about exams or what they would wear to schools, their counterparts in the Swat Valley of Pakistan place their very life in danger whenever they make an attempt to attend schools. Because of the fearlessness that she calmly displayed in the face of mortal threats at such a tender age, Malala will indeed be a great choice for Time Magazine Person of the Year. This recognition will be a fitting tribute to Malala’s defiance as she recovers from the gunshot wounds that almost took her life.