What a perfect way to prepare for International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11!
Today, 17-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai became the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her tireless work promoting girls’ access to education around the globe. She co-won the award with Kailash Satyarthi, who, at 60, has spent decades fighting for an end to child slavery.
Yousafzai was in chemistry class when she learned of her award, but instead of cutting class to celebrate, she stayed and finished the school day.
“I decided I would not leave my school, rather I would finish my school time,” she said, adding she was accepting the prize on behalf of children all over the world. “I’m proud I’m the first Pakistani and the first young woman or the first young person who is getting this award.”
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Yousafzai’s advocacy for the education of girls in her native Pakistan put her squarely in the crosshairs of the Taliban at 14 years old: She was shot in the head by a Talbiban extremist on October 9, 2012. She survived, and, rather than frightening her into the shadows, the experience strengthened Yousafzai’s resolve to expand access to education for girls.
Addressing the United Nations on her 16th birthday in 2013, Yousafzai said, “Terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died, strength, power and courage was born.”
Thorbjørn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, lauded Yousafzai’s “heroic struggle” taken “under the most dangerous of circumstances.” He added, “Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzai, has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education and has shown by example that children and young people too can contribute to improving their own situations.”
We can’t think of anyone more deserving than you, Malala. You are an inspiration!
Photo courtesy of Statsministerens kontor via Flickr Creative Commons.