Interactive Timeline: Malala Yousafzai’s Extraordinary Journey
Asim HafeezThe Making of a Heroine
How a young girl from northwest Pakistan became an international symbol of the fight for girls education
Diego Ibarra Sánchez for TIME
A man walks on the streets of Mingora during the sunrise in the Swat Vallet of Pakistan.
A Unique Beginning
Malala Yousafzai is born in Mingora, in Pakistan's Swat Valley, a scenic, mountainous area northwest of the capital, to a Pashtun family. She is named after a Pashtun folk heroine who helped defeat the British in Afghanistan in 1880. Soon after her birth, her father enters her name on the family register, an unprecedented move in a male-dominated society that only recognizes sons.
The Taliban's Influence Grows
Capitalizing on widespread economic malaise, Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah consolidates power in Swat. His FM radio station, preaching Islamic law, is immensely popular.
BBC / YouTube
Girls' Schools Are Targeted
A failed military campaign to retake the Swat valley results in a wave of terror. The Taliban commence a campaign to blow up all government institutions. They focus their wrath on girls’ schools which they say go against Islamic teachings. Hundreds of buildings are destroyed by militants who threaten pupils and teachers alike. Malala’s school, operated by Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, remains open, but is under constant threat.
First Public Appearance
Ziauddin Yousafzai takes his daughter to the provincial capital of Peshawar for an event at the city’s press club to protest the attacks on girls’ schools. In front of the national press the eleven-year old gave a speech entitled “How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right to an Education.” Her talk is very well-received.
January 3, 2009
A Schoolgirl's Blog Attracts Global Attention
Mullah Fazlullah, in a radio address, announces that as of January 15 all girls’ schools will be closed. Malala’s father had been asked by BBC Urdu if any of his students would write about life under the Taliban. One girl volunteered, but her parents objected because they were afraid of reprisals. Malala stepped in and her first post appeared Jan. 3, 2009. She wrote under the pseudonym of Gul Makai, a folklore heroine, a name that also means cornflower. The blog made Malala famous.
"All I want is an education. And I am afraid of no one."
The Taliban agree to a permanent ceasefire with the Pakistani government, but only if Sharia law is imposed. Malala meets Hamid Mir, a famous Pakistani TV news presenter at an anti-Taliban protest, and is interviewed on his show which has an audience of some 25 million.
Al Jazeera / YouTube
The ceasefire collapses. Malala and a million other Pakistanis flee the Swat Valley in anticipation of a second military offensive. Fighting continues in the region for several months. Malala’s family, separated while in exile, return to Swat in August when the Pakistani army declares the operation over. They come home to a ransacked school and a devastated city.
Going Public Brings Danger
The risk seemingly reduced now that the Pakistani army has regained control of Swat, Malala’s father reveals that she is the BBC blogger. Subsequently, the Taliban issues threats to the family.
Stephane de Sakutin / AFP / Getty Images
Desmond Tutu nominates Malala for the International Children’s Peace Prize. She was a runner-up, but becomes a celebrity in Pakistan.
Becoming a National Heroine
Malala wins Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize which has been renamed in her honor.
Al Jazeera / YouTube
A Near-Fatal Attack
A masked gunman stops Malala’s school bus, asks for her by name and fires four rounds into the group of girls. Two were injured, andMalala is hit with one bullet which pierced the skin just behind her left eye, traveled along the exterior of her skull, nicked her jawbone, went through her neck and lodged in the muscle just above her shoulder blade. She is treated first in Pakistan but is then moved to Birmingham, England for further treatment. The attack prompts global outrage.
Recovering Far From Home
Malala comes out of a medically-induced coma and responds well to treatment. She has been able to write notes and communicate.Her family joins her in England and support pours in from around the world.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham / AFP / Getty Images
A picture taken on November 7, 2012 shows injured 15 year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai reading cards sent by well-wishers at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in central England.
Malala speaks on the telephone with Ayesha Mir, daughter of Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, to tell her to be strong after a shrapnel-packed bomb was found under the family’s car. The bomb was meant for Ayesha’s father who regularly taunts the Taliban on his famous news show. Meanwhile, support for Malala and her cause pours in.
Bertrand Langlois / AFP / Getty Images
Pakistan's President Zardari is pictured during the advocacy event on Dec. 10, 2012 at the Unesco headquarters in Paris.
A Legacy of Learning
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari announces the establishment of a $10 million education fund in Malala’s name.