And the answer: Malala Yousafzai.
In 2014, the Pakistani activist became the youngest Nobel prize laureate. After her school was closed and learning restricted for girls in her region, she became an advocate for girls’ education. Surviving an assassination attempt at 15 years old, she rose to global prominence, and her activism led to Pakistan’s first Right to Education Act.
Malala Yousafzai began her life of activism when most children her age were getting ready for middle school. At just 11 years old, Malala began blogging about her experience under the Taliban using a pseudonym, and around that time gave her first speech in defense of education—“How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right to Education?”—at a local press club. By the time she was fourteen years old, she had begun to receive widespread recognition for her activism. In October 2011, Malala was nominated by Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize, and in December of that year she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize (later renamed the National Malala Peace Prize).
But just a year later, at age 15, Malala was fighting for her life following an assasination attempt on her way to school. The event made headlines across the world and spurred protests throughout Pakistan. Ultimately, while Malala miraculously recovered, the violence shattered the illusion of good faith in the Pakistani education system, and led to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education bill. From Malala’s hardship rose one message that echoed across the world: education is a right worth fighting for.
Did you know?
Yesterday, October 5, was World Teachers Day! The holiday commemorates the anniversary of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which sets benchmarks regarding teachers’ rights and responsibilities. It also sets standards for their education, recruitment, employment, and teaching conditions. Moreover, the celebration gives an excuse to thank the educators in our lives, many of whom have dedicated entire decades of their life to the pursuit of higher knowledge. Thank a teacher today, and learn more about World Teachers Day here.