By the age of 12, Malala was already beginning to make a name for herself as an activist, blogging for the BBC and was featured in a New York Times documentary.
But it was only at the age of 15, when Taliban gunmen attempted to assassinate her, that Malala and her message became known worldwide.
Recognizing that the October 2012 shooting backfired in ceasing Malala's "anti-Taliban activities," a senior Taliban commander penned an open letter, lamenting the "shocking" attack.
"When you were attacked it was shocking for me I wished it would never happened," Adnan Rashid wrote.
Rashid denied she was shot over her education activism, but instead because she was advocating Western -- American -- values.
"If you were shot but Americans in a drone attack, would world have ever heard updates on your medical status?" he wrote. "Would you be called ‘daughter of the nation? Would the media make a fuss about you?"
"Would you were called to UN," he asked. "Would a Malala day be announced?"
"More than 300 innocent women and children have been killed in drones attacks but who cares
because attackers are highly educated, non-violent, peaceful Americans."
Rashid pleaded Malala to "come back home" to focus her studies at a female Islamic madrassa to "use you pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah."
Malala was shot on October 9, 2012, while riding home from school on a bus through Swat Valley. The bullet passed through her head and neck, but she survived.
Malala celebrated her 16th birthday Friday, addressing the United Nations Youth Assembly. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named July 12 Malala Day to represent the goal of education for all children.