Malala Yousafzai: Shot by Taliban for backing women's education, the Nobel laureate is now an Oxford graduate

The 22-year-old Pakistani activist for female education took to her social media handles to post about her new milestone


                            Malala Yousafzai: Shot by Taliban for backing women's education, the Nobel laureate is now an Oxford graduate
Malala Yousafzai (Getty Images)

Eight years after she nearly died from a bullet to the head, Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize award has officially graduated from Oxford University. The 22-year-old Pakistani activist for female education took to her social media handles, to post about her new milestone. She uploaded a series of celebratory images, where she is seen smothered in cake and sat alongside her family. Yousafzai completed her degree in philosophy, politics and economics from one of Oxford University's campuses, Lady Margaret Hall. "Hard to express my joy and gratitude right now as I completed my Philosophy, Politics, and Economics degree at Oxford,'' she tweeted. "I don't know what's ahead. For now, it will be Netflix, reading, and sleep."

Yousafzai became a global feminist icon and a well-known human rights campaigner after she was gunned down by the Taliban in 2012 while returning him from school. At 15, she was struck by three bullets to the head in the scenic Swat Valley area of Pakistan when she had approached the militants in order to seek support for girls' education. She had been fighting against the extremist terror group's regressive interpretation of Islam, which limited the girl child's access to formal education.  She was targeted on the bus home leaving two of her friends severely injured along with her. She had to be airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, for treatment and rehabilitation to overcome her injuries, and whilst there her family permanently relocated to the UK.

In this handout photo provided by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, 15-year-old Malala is being treated in the UK after she was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan (Getty Images)

The bullets were supposed to kill her. Instead, after extensive rehabilitation sessions, she jumped back to her former glory and used her new-found global fame to continue her advocacy for female education and human rights. Championing her cause, she traveled across the world and campaigned for girls' rights to education and improved life. In 2014, two years after she survived the life-threatening attack, Yousafzai made history by becoming the youngest person to be bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize, at age 17. “It seems like pressure, but it is not pressure,” Ms Yousafzai had said at the time while accepting the award. “It is strength and encouragement.”

Eventually, following her recovery, she finished school in Britain and received her undergraduate acceptance letter from one of the world's top universities in 2017 for a degree in social sciences. Oxford University was pretty much her dream institution for it was also the alma mater of her idol, Pakistan's first female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007 while on the campaign trail. While Yousafzai hasn't talked about her plans for the future, her 'PPE' degree points towards a political path in her career and is commonly deemed as 'the prime minister's degree'.

Malala Yousafzai accepts the Nobel Peace Prize Award during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at Oslo City Town Hall on December 10, 2014, in Oslo, Norway (Getty Images)

When she had been shot, Malala was a contributing writer for a blog managed by BBC and diligently wrote about living under Taliban oppression in Pakistan. Her father, who is a teacher by profession and ran his own school in the area, encouraged her to fight for the right to girls' education. Later on, Yousafzai founded the Malala Fund, with her father. The non-profit organization advocates the very cause that she endorsed and almost died for. According to statistics from the United Nations Children's Fund, a United Nations body, over 132 million girls, the world over, do not attend any school. But girls living in countries affected by conflict are twice as likely to be left without education as compare to other places.

The world has viewed Yousafzai as an icon for her heroic journey and ceaseless efforts to promote female education and woman empowerment. Her books have become best-sellers and her story is widely told, while her non-profit foundation has garnered celebrity donors, with even former first lady, Michelle Obama joining her cause. However, that is not the case in her hometown of Pakistan, where she is condemned. They allege that she is a tool of an international campaign that aims to defame and/or bring down Pakistan. So when she visited Pakistan for the first time since she had been shot in 2018, she wasn't welcomed warmly by much of the Pakistani population. There were many that rejoiced at her return, while others heavily criticized her, and videos of people chanting anti-Malala slogans surfaced the Internet.

In this handout image provided by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama (R), first lady Michelle Obama (2L), and their daughter Malia Obama (L) meet with Malala Yousafzai in the Oval Office October 11, 2013, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

While at Oxford, Yousafzai indulged herself in the simple pleasure of student life. She joined the cricket club, the debating society, the Oxford Union, as well as the Oxford Pakistan Society. In a 2018 column for Vogue, she revealed that she was just like any other student trying to enjoy and live the university life to the fullest. “A few — well, many — times, I started an essay at 11 p.m. the night before it was due,” she wrote. Following her graduation announcement, she was congratulated by her followers and admirers, which included some celebrity personnel as well. Turkish author, Elif Shafak, and Children's writer Philip Pullman sent her their best wishes via social media, while Hollywood stars Resse Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling also congratulated her.

As of now, Yousafzai has made it clear that she will put all her free time to good use while being stuck at home by watching Netflix, reading, and catching up on some well-needed sleep. As of now, her status remains 'Currently Unemployed', per an Instagram update.

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