Malala Yousafzai: ‘I Was Spared for a Reason’

ABC News

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old worldwide symbol for peace and education, details the day when a Taliban assassin shot her point-blank in the head on her way home from school.

"On the day when I was shot, all of my friends' faces were covered, except mine," said Malala, recalling the Oct. 9, 2012, bus ride in the SWAT Valley of Pakistan.

"Was that wise?" asked Sawyer. "It was brave, but was it wise?"

"At that time, I was not worried about myself," said Malala. "I wanted to live my life as I want. And I said that it's my right to be without covering my face. I was not expecting them to kill a young girl or to kill a child."

Malala was 11 years old when she took a stand against the Taliban, who had issued an edict that all girls' schools should be closed. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, ran a girls' school, and had been targeted for death by the Taliban. And Malala's increasing visibility put her at risk as well.

"I wasn't scared, but I had started making sure the gate was locked at night and asking God what happens when you die," Malala wrote in her new autobiography "I Am Malala."

Malala wrote that she considered what she would do if a terrorist jumped out and shot her.

"Maybe I'd take off my shoes and hit him," she wrote. "But then I'd think that if I did that, there would be no difference between me and a terrorist."

"It would be better to plead, 'Okay, shoot me, but first listen to me. What you are doing is wrong. I'm not against you personally. I just want every girl to go to school.'"

The bullet narrowly missed Malala's brain and she was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, six days after the attack. She spent nearly three months in the hospital and underwent numerous surgeries.

Now Malala and her family are living in Birmingham and she is back at school. She spent her 16th birthday giving a speech at the United Nations and has become the youngest person to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

She has also founded the Malala Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for and supports girls’ education around the world through grants and partner collaborations.

Malala is dedicated to devoting her life to her cause.

"It feels like this life is not my life. It's a second life," she said. "People have prayed to God to spare me and I was spared for a reason -- to use my life for helping people."

"I Am Malala" will be in bookstores Tuesday, Oct. 8. In addition to the U.S., the book will be published in 21 countries. You can see Diane Sawyer's exclusive interview with Malala on “World News with Diane Sawyer” at 6:30 p.m. EDT on Monday Oct. 7, and a 20/20 special "Unbreakable" on Friday, Oct. 11, at 10:00 p.m. EDT.