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Malala Yousafzai wins Nobel Prize

October 21st, 2014

 

Malala Yousafzai, a 17-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls’ education, was named the youngest and first Pakistani winner of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, Oct. 10.

 

Starting her campaign for equal educational opportunities for women at the age of 11, Yousafzai has spoken internationally to promote female equality.

 

“The Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought the bullets would silence you, but they failed,” said Yousafzai when speaking at the United Nations on her 16th birthday on July 11, 2014.

 

Yousafzai shared the highest award of advocacy in the world with Kailash Satyarthi of India, an activist working against child labor and human trafficking. While the two are very different in age, their dedication to peace was seen on equal footing.

 

“Despite her youth, Malala has shown by example that children and young people can contribute to improving their own situation,” said Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland.

 

According to the BBC, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee also stressed the importance of the two recipients being from Islamic and Hindu religious backgrounds.

 

This emphasized the commonality of struggles against extremism in two countries with a longtime rivalry.

Malala Yousafzai

Yousafzai said that this joint award gave, “a message to people of love between Pakistan and India, and between different religions,” according to CNN.

 

Yousafzai was informed that she received the honor during her high school chemistry class while in refuge in Birmingham, England. Ahmad Shah, the principal of Yousafzai’s former school in Pakistan, reflected on the work Yousafzai has done.

 

“I was across the street when she was shot. And I now I see this day. What a day,” said Shah, according to NBC.

 

Yousafzai expressed the great honor she felt from the award and said, “I think this is really the beginning. [Children should] should stand up for their rights [and] not wait for someone else,” according to CNN.

 

Yousafzai wrote a blog for the BBC, advocating women’s right to education before being shot by the Taliban. She has worked for the cause in many ways since, including fighting for the release of 276 Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist group.

 

She also worked to create the Malala Fund, a nonprofit organization focused on violence, culture and poverty and their effect on young women’s rights.

 

malala

Yousafzai recently presented U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with a petition backed by the signatures of four million people and 57 million children. According to NBC, Ban Ki-moon has noted her as “a symbol of hope, [and] a daughter of the United Nations.”

 

In response to the award, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, “She is [the] pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment.”

 

Pakistani news anchor Mehar Bokhari also asserted Pakistan’s juxtaposition of feelings for Yousafzai should move to match the world’s feelings of reverence.

 

“It’s ironic, really. She is such an inspiration for the rest of the world, yet we fail to gain any inspiration from her as a people and a nation,” she said, according to NBC.

 

In her acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, Yousafzai thanked her father “for not clipping my wings. I thank him for letting me fly.”

 

Yousafzai plans on remaining a student in England, continuing to learn, promote and fight against female oppression.

 

Editor’s Note: Information from BBC, NBC and CNN was used in this report.