Malala, whose father ran a school for years in Mingora, had been facing Taliban threats for years. In 2009, when Taliban militants forced the school to close, she blogged her experiences for BBC Urdu under a pseudonym, shedding light on what it was like for young girls to live under Taliban rule. When the school reopened, Malala continued to speak out, appearing on talk shows and making public appearances demanding that girls in Pakistan have the right to an education.
Her shooting launched an unprecedented outcry, cross-cutting through Pakistan's complex religious and political lines. Political leaders from all parties, even those with historical ties to the Taliban, have condemned the attack. Pakistan's normally reclusive army chief and the country's prime minister made personal visits to see her in the hospital.
"It's united the entire nation," said Farzani Bari, a women's rights activist.
"Everybody feels the same way. If you can't protect your own children, then what kind of future is there for this country?
Initially, Pakistanis began protesting the attack in small numbers, with sporadic rallies and candlelit vigils attended, in some cases, by just dozens of well-wishers. As news of the attack on her spread, and politicians began making more forceful condemnations, the numbers quickly swelled.
Tens of thousands took to the streets Sunday in a political rally in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city. Young children carried placards with Malala's picture, and Altaf Hussain, the leader of Pakistan's Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a key political party in Karachi, referred to her as "the daughter of the nation."
Even Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sent his condolences, writing a public letter to Pakistani political leaders, asking them to do more to rein in terrorists who operate along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.