In the 17 years I have been on this earth, I have been through a lot. I have worked hard for children’s rights in my native region of Swat in Pakistan, spoken at numerous institutions around the globe, and, most significantly of all, I was shot in the face for wanting to go to school.
My story starts in 1997, when I was born in a modest family and grew up surrounded by my father, mother, two younger brother and handful of chickens. I was always a hard working girl, who saw great importance in a solid education.
I generally had a happy childhood but for the fact that the local Taliban rules my homeland and does not allow girls to have an education or go to school. Because of this I spent several weeks away from my beloved classroom. Despite the ban, I would still attend classes and try to improve my education.
When I was younger, I wanted to become a doctor, but my father was a role model for me to pursue a life of politics instead. In 2008, when I was 11, I started writing a blog for BBC Urdu. Writing anonymously, I shared my thoughts on the Taliban-led regime looting and terrorizing my country. I also had some strong words to write about the inadequacies of the Pakistani national forces.
It seems that it is only when dozens of schools have been destroyed and hundreds others closed down that the army thinks about protecting them.
By 2012, my actions had gained the attention of several people in my country, who saw me as a beacon of change in the area of child education. Even South African human-rights activist Desmond Tuto thought I should win an award.
Unfortunately, it was not only these fine people who were interested in my story. The Taliban leaders saw me as threat and vowed to have me removed. In late 2012, a Taliban gunman boarded a bus with the intention of killing me. He shot me in the head. Everything went blank.
I woke up several days later in a hospital surrounded my doctors. Luckily I had survived the ordeal, but that meant that I could not return to Pakistan as long as the Taliban ruled the Swat territory.