The man was wearing a peaked cap and looked like a college student. He swung himself onto the tailboard at the back and leaned in right over us.
‘Who is Malala’ he demanded.
No one said anything, but several of the girls looked at me. I was the only girl with my face not covered.
That’s when he lifted up a black pistol. I later learned it was a Colt 45. Some of the girls screamed. Moniba tells me I squeezed her hand.
My friends say he fired three shots, one after another. The first went through my left eye socket and out under my left shoulder. I slumped forward onto Moniba, blood coming from my left ear, so the other two bullets hit the girls next to me. One bullet went into Shazia’s left hand. The third went through her left shoulder and into the upper right arm of Kainat Riaz.
My friends later told me the gunman’s hand was shaking as he fired.
-Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist, a student, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Malala Fund co-founder. She is best known for defying the Taliban in Pakistan and advocating for equal access to education. She demanded that girls be allowed access schooling. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 and survived to continue her advocacy work.
Malala Yousafzai now tells her story, not just because her story is extraordinary, but because many other girls around the world have found themselves in the same situation. There are millions of other girls who have been banned from attending school.
“I have often said that I share my story not because it is unique — but because it is not. The fear I had then is still felt today by 130 million out-of-school girls around the world.” – Malala Yousafzai, Malala.org
Yousafzai has continued her education and, as of last week, she has finished her secondary education. She writes in her blog post about how she is excited for her future, but she also reminds her audience that she is still fighting “until the day that every girl can put on her uniform, pack up her books and walk to school without fear.”
As a strong advocate for obtaining knowledge and the accessibility of education for all genders I have come to find Yousafzai as a someone that I can look up to. I can’t ever imagine myself being denied an education due to my gender, race, or other identity, and I’m not sure if I would ever be as brave as Malala Yousafzai and continue fighting for my education with a target on my back.
Like Malala Yousafzai, I believe many of the world’s problems can be solved by turning our focus towards education. If the world was encouraged to learn, grow, and understand itself through education I believe more peace can be attainable, a stronger world economy can develop, and a better planet see the fruits of our labor and emerge.