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Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani-born activist and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has just joined Oxford University.

Acceptance from Oxford

The 20-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who in 2014 won the Nobel Peace Prize for advocating girls’ education, has just started her education at Oxford University. She will be pursuing a prestigious PPE undergraduate degree, an interdisciplinary program drawing from philosophy, politics, and economics.

Malala confirmed her acceptance by Lady Margaret Hall college in August. “So excited to go Oxford!! Well done to all A-level students – the hardest year. Best wishes for life ahead,” she tweeted then.

Malala’s Story

Malala Yousafzai first came to international prominence in 2009 when she started blogging for the BBC about her personal experiences in war-torn Swat, a North-Western region in Pakistan. Soon after the Taliban militants gained control over the territory, the access to education drastically deteriorated. Not only did they destroy dozens of schools, but they also banned girls from going to school.

Under the entry from January 3, 2009, Malala, who was attending seventh grade at that time, wrote:

“I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban’s edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.

On my way from school to home I heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.”

Campaigning for Education Rights

Her fearless blog, registering her everyday struggles to receive education, drew attention worldwide. The Taliban didn’t overlook it either. On October 9, 2012, in a premeditated attack, a Taliban gunman shot Malala with one bullet that pierced through her head and neck.

Contrary to the attackers goal, however, Malala’s advocacy for girls’ rights only intensified, once she recuperated from the lengthy recovery. Recalling the day of the attack, she said that it’s when “weakness, fear and hopelessness died.”

In two years after the attack, on October 10, 2014, Malala Yousafzai, together with Kailash Satyarthi from India, received the Nobel Peace Prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”


Controversial Alumna

Interestingly, on the list of alumni of Oxford’s PPE program, appears another female Nobel Peace Laureate – Aung San Suu Kyi. Formerly symbolizing freedom and democracy, San Suu’s most recent behaviour drove a wedge between her Burmese government and the rest of the world. International community has been in particular disappointed after she refused to act in the face of grave ethnic cleansing committed by the Burmese military forces. Over the past weeks, vicious attack have forced over 500,000 Rohingya people to flee the country across the border with Bangladesh.

And, as a matter of fact, even though the two icons have never met in real life, their paths have crossed in the context of the Rohingya crisis. Malala publicly condemned the Burmese leader last month:

“We have seen pictures of small children killed by Myanmar’s security forces. These children attacked no one, but still their homes were burned to the ground. (…) Over the last several years, I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same,” she said in a statement.

Read More: Violence Flares Against Rohingya People

Studying Is Advocacy

Every academic success of Malala is inspiring news for millions of girls around the globe who have been deprived of the access to education. There are currently about 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school, according to UNESCO estimates.

“I promise to keep fighting until the day that every girl can put on her uniform, pack her books and walk to school without fear,” she wrote on her blog in July.

 

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