Malala reads a book in an undated photo released Nov. 9, 2012. (Queen Elizabeth Hospital)
Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl and activist who was shot in the head by a Taliban assassin on her way home from school last fall, has spoken publicly for the first time since the shooting.
"Today you can see that I'm alive," Yousafzai said in a short video released on Monday. "I can speak. I can see you. I can see everyone."
Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban for her advocacy for girls' education rights, was released from a British hospital last month.
"I'm getting better day by day," she said. "It's just because the prayers of people, because all the people—men, women, children, all of them, all of them—have prayed for me. And because of these prayers God has given me this new life. And this is a second life. This is a new life.
"I want to serve," Yousafzai, wearing a traditional headscarf that hid any scars from the bullet, added. "I want to serve the people. And I want every girl, every child, to be educated."
She then announced the launch of the Malala Fund to support education for all girls.
On Oct. 9, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck by a Taliban gunman while returning home from school. She was hospitalized in critical condition and eventually transferred to a U.K. hospital, where she underwent surgery on Oct. 16.
On Saturday, Yousafzai had successful surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, central England, to reconstruct her skull.
The Taliban said they targeted her because she promoted "Western thinking," according to the Associated Press, but the attempt to murder a teenage girl over her desire to go to school sent a wave of revulsion around the world.
Gordon Brown, the U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education, launched a U.N. petition ("I Am Malala") in her name, demanding that all children—including Pakistani girls—have access to schooling.
In November, Time magazine nominated Yousafzai as one of its 2012 "Person of the Year" candidates. Yousafzai, Time said, "has become an inspiration not only in her native Pakistan—where the culture wars over women's rights and religious diversity have taken many violent turns—but all around the globe."
And last week, Yousufzai was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
- Society & Culture