The schoolgirl who took on the Taliban
02:26 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: This profile originally was published in October 2012, days after Malala was shot, and revised in January 2013 to give an update on medical care that she was then receiving.

Story highlights

Malala Yousufzai's father, an educator, taught her to stand up for her rights

In 2009, the Taliban issued an edict that all girls in her region be banned from schools

Malala spoke out, blogged and appeared in a documentary, refusing to follow their orders

After a 2010 meeting with a top diplomat, she wanted ice cream, revealing she was still just a kid

CNN  — 

Eleven-year-olds sometimes have trouble sleeping through the night, kept awake by monsters they can’t see.

But Malala Yousufzai knew exactly what her monsters looked like.

They had long beards and dull-colored robes and had taken over her city in the Swat Valley, in northwestern Pakistan.

It was such a beautiful place once, so lush and untouched that tourists flocked there to ski. But that was before 2003, when the Taliban began using it as a base for operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Read more: One girl’s courage in the face of Taliban cowardice

The Taliban believe girls should not be educated, or for that matter, even leave the house. In Swat they worked viciously to make sure residents obeyed.

But this was not how Malala decided she would live. With the encouragement of her father, she began believing that she was stronger than the things that scared her.

“The Taliban have repeatedly targeted schools in Swat,”