How Malala Yousafzai Became Youngest Nobel Prize Winner in History

·2-min read

Just before his death, Alfred Nobel signed a piece of paper that would signify his legacy for centuries to come. On November 27, 1895, the Swiss chemist and dynamite inventor, left a large portion of his fortune to help others like him.

As one can imagine, all the benefactors of this will weren’t too pleased with the idea, but somehow the Nobel Prize came into existence in 1901. The first group of awards were in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Literature, and Peace, just like Nobel wished it to be in his will.

One hundred and thirteen years from that day, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person in history to win this highly prestigious accolade. Her story is as inspiring as it gets. A young girl who fought against orthodox authorities to claim her rights and of millions of other young girls in her country.

BBC wanted a young girl in Pakistan to blog about the pains of living under the Taliban. Naturally, everyone they approached refused, it was too risky. Ziauddin Yousufzai, a schoolteacher and in correspondence with the BBC, suggested he had the perfect candidate at home. His daughter, Malala. Hence, she started keeping a ‘diary.’

Her handwritten notes of life in the Swat Valley were published to BBC in 2009. It was about her fears of losing her education as that year, the Taliban issued a decree banning education of all girls. Her pseudonym didn’t hide her identity and the Taliban knew it was her.

As a 17-year-old Malala returned from school, gunmen stopped her vehicle. There were other girls inside. Malala was shot in the neck and head. Others had less severe injuries. She was taken to London as the world rose in her support. People were calling out the country that failed her. Her campaign for girls’ right to education was now global.

Two years after the attack, her campaign continued. This time, from London. As she was in her Chemistry class in London, a teacher popped in and gave the news that Malala, 17, was now the youngest person in history to win a Nobel.

According to the Nobel organisation, the award went jointly to Malala and Kailash Satyarthi (Child right activist from India) “For their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Her attack led to a letter from the United Nations to the Pakistani government, urging to restore education for girls. She has since been on television talk shows, spoken at the UN, and been an inspiration for millions of girls across the globe. A school established by her now provides education and free books to teenage girls in Lebanon.