21 things Malala achieved before turning 21

malala yousafzai 21
Malala Yousafzai just turned 21. Photo by United Nations Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons

Malala Yousafzai has been a household name for her human rights activism for almost a decade now, which is even more impressive considering she just turned 21 yesterday.

Yousafzai celebrated her birthday (also known as Malala Day) in Brazil on July 12, alongside other young activists fighting for access to girls education. Even with a list accomplishments that seems to outpace her years, she still showed her age by joining Instagram. And, she’s racked up more than 190 thousand followers in one day.

Hi, Instagram! So happy to be celebrating my 21st birthday in #Brazil!

A post shared by Malala Yousafzai (@malala) on

Last year, she did the same — both celebrating her birthday with human rights work AND joining a social media platform (Twitter). She visited girls who had been forced from their homes and schools at a camp in Iraq. And when she turned 19, she visited the largest refugee camp in Kenya.

“Every year on my birthday I travel to meet girls who are struggling to go to school, to stand with them and to make sure the world hears their stories,” she penned in a 2016 article.

Not to make you feel old or lame, but here are 21 more things that Malala has achieved before her 21st birthday:

  1. 2008: At the age of 8, Malala protests school closings and gives her first speech, “How Dare the Taliban Take Away my Basic Right to Education?”, in Pakistan.
  2. 2009: When she was 11, she speaks out against the Taliban and describes her life under their rule in a BBC blog post.
  3. 2009: The New York Times profiles Malala’s mission in a mini-documentary called Class Dismissed, and Malala becomes the subject of global attention for her humanitarianism.
  4. 2011: At the age of 14, she is awarded Pakistan’s first Youth National Peace Prize for her activism.
  5. 2012: Malala survives an assassination attempt by the Taliban for her outspoken criticism of them, and her advocacy for girls education.
  6. 2013: Now 16, Malala co-writes an international best-selling book about her life called I Am Malala.
  7. 2013: Malala founds her namesake international non-profit, the Malala Fund. The fund helps empower women leaders, amplify their voices and promote access to education for girls in marginalized communities.
  8. 2013: Malala gives her first speech at the United Nations, beginning their “Youth Takeover” initiative.
  9. 2013: Following her speech, the United Nations deems her birthday “Malala Day,” an annual global holiday.
  10. 2013: Malala receives the United Nations Human Rights Prize, an award that is only given every five years.
  11. 2013: Malala continues garnering honors for her activism, receiving the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, joining other Sakharov recipients like Nelson Mandela and the United Nations as a whole.
  12. 2014: Malala becomes the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever.
  13. 2014: Time magazine names Malala one of the Most Influential Teens of 2014 and 100 Most Influential People.
  14. 2015: Malala becomes the subject of a second documentary about her life, He Named Me Malala.
  15. 2015: Malala receives a Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album for I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World.
  16. 2017: Malala receives the UN Messenger of Peace designation.
  17. 2017: She begins classes as a freshman at Oxford University.
  18. 2017: Malala releases her first children’s book, Malala’s Magic Pencil.
  19. 2017: Malala is awarded honorary Canadian citizenship and becomes the youngest person to address the Canadian House of Commons.
  20. 2018: Malala announces she will release her second book in September. Called We Are Displaced, it will chronicle her own experiences as a refugee and those of other female refugees she’s met.
  21. 2018: Malala makes her first visit to South America to promote girls’ education, and speaks out against the Trump administration policy of separating families at the border.
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