Nobel Laureate, Education Activist Malala Yousafzai Speaks in Pasadena Wednesday

Published on May 17, 2022

Nobel Laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai will be speaking Wednesday, May 18, in the Distinguished Speaker Series of Southern California at the Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. St. John Ave. in Pasadena.

A champion since age 10 for the rights of girls to receive an education and the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai made headlines when she was shot by the Taliban in 2012 at the age of 15 while traveling home from school on the bus with her friends in Pakistan. Now living with her family in Birmingham, England, she is internationally known for her courage in refusing to be silenced and continues to campaign for the right of every child to go to school.

At a very young age, Malala developed a thirst for knowledge. Born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, the largest city in the Swat Valley in what is now Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, she was enrolled in her father’s school at the age of 4. Truly her father’s daughter, while other children fantasized about playing with toys, Malala fantasized about giving lectures.

But it was in the hallways of her father’s school that Malala found her voice and her vision. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, is a Pakistani educator, activist, and humanitarian who established a thriving school in their rural home in Swat Valley, which aimed to provide educational opportunities for all children. Ziauddin’s dedication to education and peaceful resistance against the Taliban made the world take notice.

In 2007, when Malala was 10 years old, the situation in the Swat Valley rapidly changed for her family and community. The Taliban began to control the Swat Valley and quickly became the dominant socio-political force throughout much of northwestern Pakistan. Girls were banned from attending school, and cultural activities like dancing and watching television were prohibited. Suicide attacks were widespread, and the group made its opposition to a proper education for girls a cornerstone of its terror campaign. By the end of 2008, the Taliban had destroyed some 400 schools.

Determined to go to school and with a firm belief in her right to an education, Malala stood up to the Taliban. Alongside her father, Malala quickly became a critic of their tactics. She began her campaign for girls’ education at age 11 with her anonymous blog for the BBC, “Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl,” about life under the Taliban.

Malala soon began advocating publicly for girls’ education. She would join her father on his visits to neighboring villages to recruit for the school. While he spoke to the men, she would speak to the women. Their crusade was the subject of a New York Times short documentary in 2009. Independently, Malala began attracting international media attention and awards. Her voice grew louder, and over the course of the next three years, she and her father became known throughout Pakistan for their determination to give Pakistani girls access to a free quality education. Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. That same year, she was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.

After being shot by the Taliban in 2012, Malala recovered in the UK and has continued her fight for girls ever since. In 2013, she founded the Malala Fund with her father. A year later, Malala received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts to see every girl complete 12 years of free, safe, quality education. At age 17, she became the youngest person to receive this prize.

“This award is not just for me,” she said when she received the award. “It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.”

Malala Yousafzai is the author of three books, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” “Malala’s Magic Pencil” and “We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World.”

Her talk on the Distinguished Speaker series begins at 8 p.m.

To purchase tickets, visit

For more information, call (310) 546-6222.

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