Who Is Malala? (And What Is She Doing Now)


photo via Business Insider

In her 2013 memoir, I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai recounts the profound influence that education has had on her own life and the eventual formation of her life goal: for girls to receive education worldwide. When she was denied education in her home country, Pakistan, she spoke out. At just the age of 11, she began to write undercover for BBC Urdu, educating readers on her life as a girl in Pakistan under Taliban rule. Her immense bravery in doing so led to her becoming a target of The Taliban, and in 2012 she was shot in the face. Both gripping and inspirational, Malala’s voice is poignant and telling in I Am Malala, leaving a lasting impression on all who read it.

Malala describes and reflects these harrowing events in I Am Malala. With every step forward taken to reach her goal, the danger of doing so increased. Despite the danger, Malala never faltered and provides insight as to why she continued pursuing her goals. Malala is exceptionally persistent,  and reading her story reminds us all that an individual truly can make a difference. In addition to persistence as an important theme in I Am Malala, women’s rights and how it can benefit a country are equally prevalent and powerful themes. These powerful themes create a newfound conversation: between self and civic duty.

Now, more than ever, it is important to remind ourselves of what she has been doing and why.

“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

What is she up to now?

Currently, Malala is working with refugee camps to set up schools. She stated in an NPR interview that these people do not become refugees by choice. It is the situation. […] We have to support them and then invest in these girls education because these girls know that if they want, if one day they go back home and they want to have a life, they want to achieve their dreams, then they must have an education.”

While the tumultuous events in Syria are slowly fading in the background of media and even our minds, she has not forgotten the crisis state of the refugee crisis and has continued to work on improving refugee camps and setting up schools for girls. She has criticized Trump’s recent political decisions concerning refugees, claiming that she was “heartbroken that […] President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war.”  


photo via Malala Fund

In 2013, Malala created her own foundation called Malala Fund. The fund’s objective is to champion every girl’s right to “12 years of free, safe, quality education.” She has been working with the foundation to provide education and set up more schools.

Additional Projects

Malala has also been working on a picture book for children titled Malala’s Magic Pencil. The title is based off a childhood TV show where a boy named Sanju owns a magic pencil. Malala always wanted one for herself but finds that even without a pencil, she can still make a positive change to the world. The book is targeted towards four to eight year olds with the aim to educate them on Malala’s history, her current mission, and the importance of education. She hopes that the audience “finds their magic pencil. [Her] magic pencil was [her] voice.”

5f2c8fe4-f2e3-440c-8c28-508f8c760723-malalasmagicpencil_26-27 (1)

photo via Bustle

Malala Yousafzai is a highly influential woman, relentlessly pursuing her goal to provide education to young girls around the world. Whether reading her memoir, I Am Malala, or her children’s book, Malala’s Magic Pencil, her stories will resonate with readers, reminding them of the power of one’s voice and passion.

Read the I Am Malala summary and study guide including themes, important quotes, and characters.