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She dared to question the Taliban, and paid dearly.

MALALA Yousafzai is the Pakistan schoolgirl who dared to question life under Taliban rule and became a rallying figure for every girl's right to education.

The 17-year-old, who was shot in the head for speaking out, refused to be a victim and instead became a voice for millions of young women around the world.

Her journey began in 2009 when as a seventh grade student in the Swat District she was approached about writing an anonymous blog for the BBC expressing her views on education and life under the threat of the Taliban taking over her valley.

Malala - now one of few people recognised by just her first name - did this with the blessing of her father, teacher and poet Ziauddin Yousafzai.

She chronicled events as the Taliban's military hold on the area intensified and they issued edicts banning women from going shopping and limiting their education. On January 3 2009, Malala wrote: "I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban.

"I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

"Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taliban's edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict."

When she was revealed as the author of the blog Malala and her father began to receive death threats but by 2011 she had been awarded Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize.

On October 9, 2012 a masked gunman boarded her school bus and Malala was hit by a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder, narrowly missing her brain.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 11, 2014
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