Teenage activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has once again leapt into prominence in the recent TIME’s Person of the Year Poll, second only to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Malala features well ahead of many leading world figures including Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The winner of the poll is scheduled to be announced on December 7 after the voting process concludes on December 4.
The student activist who continues to demonstrate her unswerving struggle for education for girls around the world had risen to eminence after a vicious attempt on her life by Taliban militants back in 2012. Her unstinting resolve, relentless advocacy and fearless activism had deservedly earned her the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Her project ‘The Malala Fund’ is the official organization spearheaded by her, focused on inspiring and helping girls gain access to knowledge, experience the merits of formal education and raise their voices for their respective educational rights.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in September alongside 193 youth representatives from the Organization’s 193 Member States, Malala urged world leaders to guarantee that all children enjoy the fundamental right to safe, free and quality education.
Malala hails from the picturesque river valley of Swat, located in the scenic northwest Pakistan, a region marked by magnificent views of snow-capped mountains and surrounded by spectacular forests, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. Despite being known as one of Pakistan’s lesser developed territories, the city in particular has since long remained one of the brighter avenues for education.
Following the incident in 2012, Malala arrived in the West Midlands for treatment and made a remarkably rapid recovery prior to continuing her studies in Birmingham. The city of Birmingham, as of now is set to unveil her new “three meters high” portrait at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham.
Artist Nasser Azam, the creative figure behind the portrait said that he produced the artwork, after being inspired by Malala’s extraordinary ambition and remarkable resilience and character.
“I felt compelled to meet her and make a work in response to her. She was very articulate on the subjects she is most famous for but we also had very intelligent conversations about creativity. She was confident but also very down to earth. It was truly a humbling but also inspirational for me to spend time with Malala. It’s the largest painting I’ve ever done.”
Although among the most influential voices for human rights in the world today, her stature has been the subject of much debate in Pakistan. Despite a host of mixed opinions, Malala remains increasingly inclined toward returning to her country of origin, despite serious concerns for her safety, exhibited more often in the west.
In July 2013, she left an indelible impression on the general assembly at the United Nations with her memorable and frequently-quoted words.
“One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world,”
Her stance on feminism has also been received with unfaltering approval. “I am a feminist, and you all should be feminists because feminism is another word for equality.” Malala told Emma Watson during an interview earlier in November.
For nearly 90 years, TIME has continuously picked the most influential person of the year. Many prominent figures in history have surfaced in these polls. The title is accorded to individuals who appear to have “for good or ill'” most influenced the news around the world during the year. The tradition of selecting a “Man of the Year” originally began in 1927, with editors contemplating news makers each year. The title was subsequently altered to “Person of the Year” in 1999.
[Image Credit: Richard Stonehouse/Getty Images]