Nick Knight/British Vogue

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Vogue’s Latest Cover Star Is Malala

9 things you need to know about the world’s most famous university graduate

By hannah rochell 
june 2 2021

She’s a girl’s education activist, Nobel Prize winner, survivor and author, and now Malala Yousafzai can add Vogue cover star to her list of achievements at the age of just 23. 

Photographed by the renowned photographer Nick Knight, Malala appears on the cover of the July issue of British Vogue, as well as being interviewed in-depth for the magazine. ‘When it comes to people I admire, Malala Yousafzai is right at the top,’ says Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful. And we couldn’t agree more. Here’s everything you need to know about the amazing, inspiring Malala Yousafzai.

1. Malala was a blogger at age 11

In 2009, Malala was just 11 years old when she began blogging for the BBC under the pseudonym Gul Makai. She wrote about what it was like living under Taliban rule in Pakistan, and you can still read her incredible diaries on the BBC news website.

2. Advocating for girls’ education

The Taliban took control of the town that Malala lived in, which meant that the extremists didn’t want girls going to school there. Malala’s father previously ran the school that Malala attended, and was himself active when it came to educational issues in the area. Malala wasn’t scared to speak out publicly about her own and other girls’ right to learn, but on October 9th 2012, while on the bus home from school, she was shot in the head and neck by a masked gunman. She was 15. The Taliban’s assassination attempt ultimately failed, but initially Malala was not expected to survive her injuries.

3. Malala moved to Birmingham in the UK

Following the attack, Malala underwent several operations in the United Kingdom. She and her family then relocated to Birmingham, where she was able to freely continue her education at the Edgbaston High School for Girls. She is still based in the UK.

4. The Malala Fund

When she woke up from her injuries in a new country, Malala made a decision. ‘I could live a quiet life or I could make the most of this new life I had been given. I determined to continue my fight until every girl could go to school,’ she says on her website. The first step was to establish the Malala Fund with the help of her father, which challenges systems, policies and practices to fight for all girls to have access to twelve years of free, safe, quality education and is currently active in eight countries across the world.

5. I Am Malala

In 2013, Malala’s autobiography I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot By The Taliban was published. Co-written with Christina Lamb, the book told the story of her amazing life so far and has sold over a million copies worldwide. There is also a children’s edition of the book, and Malala was also the subject of the documentary film He Named Me Malala.

6. Malala is the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize

Almost two years to the day after she was shot, in 2014 Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Kailash Satyarthi, who is another children’s rights activist. The Nobel Peace Prize cited their award motivation as being ‘for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.’ Malala was just 17 at the time, which made her the youngest ever recipient.

7. Malala is an Oxford University graduate

In 2018, Malala started studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2020, and it’s only made her more determined in her fight. ‘With more than 130 million girls out of school today, there is more work to be done. I hope you will join my fight for education and equality,’ she said after graduating. ‘Together, we can create a world where all girls can learn and lead.’

8. She counts Greta Thunberg as a friend

Malala is friends with other Gen-Z activists, including the gun control campaigner Emma González and climate activist Greta Thunberg, who visited her at Oxford University.

9. Malala and Apple TV+ 

In March 2021, Malala announced a partnership with the streaming platform Apple TV+, as well as her new production company, Extracurricular, which she intends to use to make documentaries about girls’ education and women’s rights, as well as, perhaps surprisingly, comedies (she’s a big fan of Ted Lasso).

Goal 05: Gender Equality
SFr. 46.00
Goal 05: Gender Equality
SFr. 46.00

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