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This portrait of education activist Malala Yousafzai now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London. ‘I was impressed by how wise beyond her years she was,” said artist Jonathan Yeo, who painted the portrait just months after the attack. (Jonathan Yeo/Associated Press)
This portrait of education activist Malala Yousafzai now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London. ‘I was impressed by how wise beyond her years she was,” said artist Jonathan Yeo, who painted the portrait just months after the attack. (Jonathan Yeo/Associated Press)

One year after being shot by the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai is a mighty machine Add to ...

Megan Smith, the high-profile vice-president of Google, joined Ms. Shahid on the Malala Fund board, and the fund’s first donor was actress Angelina Jolie, who put $200,000 toward the education of 40 girls in the Swat Valley. Last year, while Ms. Yousafzai was still in hospital, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was one of the first global leaders to sign a petition calling for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jonathan Yeo, who sat down with Ms. Yousafzai to paint her for a portrait that hangs in Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, says he initially had reservations about the publicity machine swirling around his subject.

“I had concerns generally. She’s this figure that so many other people are projecting their ideas onto. ... There are people circling around her who are looking to, perhaps, piggyback on the goodwill around her and the purity of her cause. People looking to promote their own causes or simply launder their reputations,” Mr. Yeo said.

But his worries were eased after he met Ms. Yousafzai. “She sees it all, and she’s very clear about it,” he said. “I was impressed by how wise beyond her years she was.”

Ms. Shahid, who first met an 11-year-old Malala when she was one of 20 girls who attended an educational retreat organized for girls from the Swat Valley, says the organizations and politicians who have gravitated to Ms. Yousafzai simply recognized the potency of her story.

“A lot of people were already fighting for this [universal education for girls], but in Malala they found the most perfect symbol of all that they were fighting for, because her story showed the tragedy of what is happening – thousands of girls across the world are being denied their voice, denied their basic rights. But it also showed just what is possible if a girl is educated, if she is given back her power.”

On being a girl

When I was born, people in our village commiserated wth my mother and nobody congratulated my father. ... I was a girl in a land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain, their role in life simply to prepare food and give birth to children.

- From I Am Malala

On being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

On the shelves of our rented living room are awards from around the world – America, India, France, Spain, Italy and Austria, and many other places. I’ve even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person ever. When I received prizes for my work at school I was happy, as I had worked hard for them, but these prizes are different. I am grateful for them, but they only remind me how much work still needs to be done to achieve the goal of education for every boy and girl. I don’t want to be thought of as the “girl who was shot by the Taliban” but “the girl who fought for education.”

- From I Am Malala

On being shocked by Bend It Like Beckham

To keep me occupied [in hospital] they brought me a DVD player. One of the first movies they got me was Bend It Like Beckham, thinking the story of a Sikh girl challenging her cultural norms and playing football would appeal to me. I was shocked when the girls took off their shirts to practice in sports bras and I made the nurses switch it off.

- From I Am Malala

On her desire to be a politician

I will be a politician in my future. I want to change the future of my country and I want to make education compulsory. I hope that a day will come [when] the people of Pakistan will be free, they will have their rights, there will be peace and every girl and every boy will be going to school.

- From an interview with the BBC, broadcast this week

On the man who shot her

He was young, in his 20s … he was quite young, we may call him a boy. And it’s hard to have a gun and kill people. Maybe that’s why his hand was shaking. Maybe he didn’t know if he could do it. But people are brainwashed. That’s why they do things like suicide attacks and killing people. I can’t imagine it – that boy who shot me, I can’t imagine hurting him even with a needle. I believe in peace. I believe in mercy.

- From an interview with the Guardian published this week

On the Taliban

When I was shot, they thought the people would be silenced, they thought that no one would talk. I think they might be repenting why they shot Malala.

- From the BBC interview

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