rebelling against low expectations

Malala Yousafzai, Age 15: Fighting For Education


Can young people still change the world today? Absolutely. And there’s no better example than Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani teenager targeted by the Taliban for advocating education for all children — boys and girls.

Malala’s story was front-page news in October 2012 when she was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen while returning home on the school bus — but she refused to die. She was flown to Great Britain where she underwent a miraculous recovery, aided by doctors, surgeons, and the prayers of millions around the world.

Five months removed from the Taliban’s brutal attack, Malala is back in the fight, authoring a memoir, and launching a global fund to further education for girls. Watch the video above, read the story below, and then check out what you can learn from Malala at the bottom of this post:

Pakistani Teen Malala Yousafzai to Author Book

ABC News • March 28, 2013 • Nick Schifrin

LONDON — The Pakistani teenager who survived an assassination attempt and inspired a worldwide movement for girls’ education will soon become a published author.

Malala Yousafzai, 15, says she wants her book, “I Am Malala,” to reveal and help children across the world who still struggle to get to school.

“I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61 million children who can’t get education,” she said in a statement released by her British publisher, Weidenfeld and Nicolson. “I want it to be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right.”

Yousafzai was shot by Taliban gunmen in her native Swat, Pakistan, last October. After emergency surgery in Pakistan she was flown to Birmingham, England, for medical treatment and has just begun school. The book will document the shooting, her survival and her recovery, which have turned her into a global ambassador. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was runner up for Time’s Person of the Year, behind only President Obama.

“Malala is already an inspiration to millions around the world,” said Michael Pietsch, executive vice president and publisher of Little, Brown, which will publish the memoir in the United States. “Reading her story of courage and survival will open minds, enlarge hearts, and eventually allow more girls and boys to receive the education they hunger for.”

Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father and the founder of the Pakistani school she used to attend, told ABC News today that she was very happy back in class. She likes her new friends, he said, and intends to finish her General Certificate of Secondary Education, or GSCEs, in Birmingham. By then she will be 16 and consider attending another school for her Advanced Levels — the equivalent of the last two years in high school in the United States.

Malala’s cause still needs urgent attention, especially in Pakistan. This week, Malala and her father became the first two signatories on a petition dedicated to Shahnaz Nazli, a girls public school teacher who was killed on Tuesday near the Afghan border. Nazli, 41, was about 500 feet from work when a car with gunmen drove up, shot her, and sped away. Nobody accepted responsibility, but local officials said the killing matched previous Taliban targeting of girls school building, workers and students — including Malala.

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Most of us live extremely safe lives. Malala didn’t. She publicly campaigned for something that was getting other activists killed. She kept speaking out even after being threatened by the Taliban. She continues to fight even after being shot at point-blank-range by terrorists. What can we learn from her?

Stop being afraid. Malala knew her cause was more important than her personal comfort and safety. She was willing to risk her life so that other girls would receive an education. Her example reminds us that the “persecution” we face (e.g. teasing, shunning, etc.) is kid-stuff compared to real persecution. We need to swallow our fears and stand up for what’s right.

Do hard things for others. Malala didn’t have to campaign so publicly for education. She could have quietly pursued her own studies and avoided drawing attention to herself. Instead she chose to risk her own education (and life) in order to speak up for those who would not or could not speak up for themselves. Are you willing to risk everything for your cause? Or do you prefer to be safe?


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About the author

Brett Harris

is co-founder of and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.


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  • I ‘ve risked my life to save my friend from causing danger to herself and suadice led her to the Lord! its not easy for me to risk my life , I don’t always perfer to be safe .

    I’m risking my life for the Love of Chrsit!
    keep it up Malalal!!

  • This is truly inspiring!! Keep it up Malala!! Way to make your voice heard!! You and your family will be in my prayers!

    Your sister in christ,

  • Amazing story…This really reminds us of how incredibly blessed we are to live in a free country like the United States. It also drives home the blessings we’ve been given here in America, and how much it could easily take to defend the rights and liberties we’ve enjoyed for so many years. God was surely watching Malala Yousafzai. I highly doubt there are many people who have gone through that kind of experience and lived to tell about it, and fight against such tyranny. May He continue to watch over her, and aid her recovery. Her life may still be in danger, if the Talaban will go to such lengths; God be with her. This is a very worthy cause, and I applaud her bravery in the face of such danger.

  • Incredible! It is so amazing to see how when they tried to stop her, all it did was make her stonger. I hope that I would have such courage in the face of death or torture for Christ’s sake.

    “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
    -John 15:13
    God bless Malala!

  • Is anyone else having errors on the pages on here? The site is taking forever to load and windows saying error keep popping up…?

  • That’s really gutsy. I don’t think we Americans can really understand that. What a passion for others! That I can understand. Wish I understood it better.

  • Hi there!

    Thank you for this wonderful post! My name is Amanda and I am the blog coordinator for AIDemocracy, a youth network aimed to inspire and encourage youth to become more involved and educated in global issues. We are currently running a Blog Carnival this week on our site on the theme- How to Change the World. Obviously your post is extremely relevant and Malala Yousafzai is an amazing role model for youth around the world.

    I am writing to ask if it would be possible to repost your blog on our site? Of course we would make sure to link it back to the original post. Please email me if interested at [email protected], and check out the Carnival here:

    Thank you!

  • I don’t know if I could do what she did. To stand up for my education. That is just Amazing. I just can’t believe that someone would shoot a kid just for standing up for others rights.

By Brett Harris
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →