2014 – Malala Yousafzai

On the afternoon of 9 October 2012, Malala Yousafzai boarded the bus to take her to school in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat. She had been blogging for the BBC on her life under the Taliban, and the necessity of educating girls.

A gunman asked for her by name, then pointed a pistol at her and fired three shots. One bullet hit the left side of Yousafzai’s forehead, travelled under her skin through the length of her face, and then went into her shoulder. In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to England, for intensive rehabilitation.

50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her. The Taliban reiterated their intent to kill Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.

Those bullets, and Malala’s determination, which was only strengthened, helped bring about the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill, and launched the most visible campaign for the education of young girls the world has seen.

A 2013 issue of Time magazine featured Yousafzai as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, and the recipient of the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In July that year, she spoke at the headquarters of the United Nations to call for worldwide access to education. In October, 2014, Yousafzai was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Aged 17 at the time, Yousafzai became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.