a children's book project on young education activists from around the world, portraits, illustration by penelope dullaghan

Last portrait of the young activist illustration series – Malala Yousafzai. She’s probably the most well-known of the activists I drew. Malala is recognized mainly for women and children’s rights advocacy for education in her native Pakistan, where the local Taliban had banned girls from attending school.

Despite violence, terrorism and threats, Malala was outspoken about education rights for girls: “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”

On the afternoon of October 9th 2012, Malala boarded her school bus. A Taliban gunman also boarded the bus, shouting “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all”. Upon seeing her, he pointed a pistol at her and fired three shots. One bullet hit the left side of Malala’s forehead, travelled under her skin through the length of her face, and went into her shoulder.

The assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Malala.

In 2014, Malala was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. At the tender age of 17, Malala became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

Malala continues her work today calling on world leaders to invest in “books, not bullets”.

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Thank you for reading this series. I hope the stories of these young activists have inspired you, perhaps got you thinking, and maybe even encouraged you to be an activist in your own small community. Please feel free to share. Thanks again, friends!