Voya Celebrates Women's History Month: Malala Yousafzai

Join us as we learn about women who have made an impact in our history to help us get to where we are today.

In Pakistan, news of a baby girl being born is not always the best news, especially for fathers. However, for one father on July 12, 1997, the arrival of Malala Yousafzai was very good news indeed. Malala was born into a family with a Pakistani father who was extraordinary. Ziauddin Yousafzai was different, he valued women, his daughter and education. After all, he was a teacher at an all-girls school in their Swat Valley village and he wanted Malala to have every chance to thrive. ¹

Thrive. By 2008, that would seem a far off goal as Taliban extremists moved in, took over and changed their way of life. It was enough to just survive. The Taliban seized the village, banned television, music and said girls could no longer go to school. By 2012, Malala was old enough to find her voice and spoke up on behalf of all young girls and her passionate belief of their right to learn. Speaking up would have its consequences. ¹

One day on her way home, a masked man boarded Malala’s bus and shot her in the head striking the left side. Miraculously, ten-days later she awoke in England. Following many months of surgeries and rehabilitation, she joined her family again in London. Now, more determined than ever, Malala continued to fight for girls everywhere in oppressed nations to have the right to go to school.  She continued her fight and her education, recently graduating from the University of Oxford where she studied politics, philosophy and economics. She also started the Malala Fund, a non-profit dedicated to investing in educators and activists in developing countries. She travels the world to hold a space for those with no voice and to hold those leaders accountable who have promised reform. In recognition of her cause and her Fund, Malala became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2014. Her work continues today. ¹


Take a look at the timeline below to learn more about impactful Women in History

(Transcription for screen readers) Voya Celebrates Women's History Month -  a timeline presenting courageous women whose vision and leadership have advanced equality and social justice for women's rights, civil rights, freedom and reform. They paved the way for others to follow in activism, education,  science, space, medicine, law, media and politics over the past 200 years.

  • Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), Elizabeth Cody Stanton (1815-1902) leaders of suffrage movement, champions of women's right to vote
  • Victoria Woodhill (1838-1927) suffragette, first woman to run for President of the US (1897), first female broker NYSE
  • Dr. Marie Curie (1867-1934) first woman doctorate physicist. first to win Nobel Prize twice
  • Coretta Scott King (1927-2006) activist, civil rights advocate for African American equality alongside MLK in the 1960s
  • Sandra Day O'Connor (1930-present) former attorney and the first woman nominated and confirmed as an associate justice to the U.S. Supreme Court Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-present) leader, American feminist movement
  • Oprah Winfrey (1954-present) first woman to produce and own her original talk show, a powerful advocate for young girls and women worldwide
  • Ellen Ochoa (1958-present) first Hispanic American female astronaut in space (1993)
  • Kamala Harris (t964-present) attorney and the first female, African-American and Asian-American vice president of the United States
  • Malala Yousafzai (1997-present) a Pakistani human rights activist for female education, human rights and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate
  • Women and girls everywhere today the countless unnamed women and girls who at great personal risk continue to advance social justice for all

Related Items


¹ Malala website, Malala’s story, https://www.malala.org/malalas-story, last accessed February 17, 2021