Malala Yousafzai, l7, Wins Nobel Peace Prize
Of all the prizes awarded each year throughout the world, the one that carries the greatest prestige is the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala, a Pakistani teenager, is the youngest recipient ever since it was created in 1901. She will share the $1.1 million prize with Kailash Satyarthi, 60, an Indian child rights campaigner. Pakistan and India are long time and current rivals, making the joint prize particularly significant. When the announcement came in Oslo on October 10, Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said it was important for “a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”
Malala’s incredible story began when she wrote an anonymous blog in 2009 about the Taliban fighters armed with Kalashnikovs who shut girls schools and terrorized the residents of the Swat Valley where she lived. She was guided by her father and began speaking eloquently on national news media about the need for education and peace. By the summer of 2012, the Taliban drew up a plan to kill her which they executed in October. Three gunman leapt into a crowded bus in northwestern Pakistan, shouting “Who is Malala?” One then fired a bullet into her head . She was flown to Britain for treatment of the life-threatening wounds and still carries a titanium plate in her head. She made a rapid recovery and resumed speaking out against Islamist violence and as an advocate for children’s education.
Malala became an international figure, visiting with President Obama and the Queen of England, and addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Her clear measured words, delivered with poise and passion, to the members were remarkable for a teenager. Ban Ki-moon , the U.N, secretary general, said, “With her courage and determination, Malala has shown what terrorists fear most: a girl with a book.” She was in her high school chemistry class in Birmingham, England, the city she now calls home, when a teacher called her out of the room.
At a news conference later, Malala said, “I was totally surprised when she told me, “Congratulations, you have won the Nobel Peace Prize, and you are sharing it with a great person who is also working for children’s rights.” Malala, guided by her father and a public relations team, has co-written a memoir that became a best-seller.
It is ironic that Malala is not welcome in Pakistan. There have been negative reactions from conservatives who have called her a pawn of the Americans whose drone attacks continue to kill Pakistani civilians. In the news media, a bizarre conspiracy theory emerged that Malala was a C.I.A. agent, or a traitor. Other critics focused on how she was being applauded and feted in the West at the same time that American drones were attacking targets in the tribal areas searching for Taliban leaders and killing civilians in their homes. Yet, after she received the Nobel Peace Prize, some in the Pakistani press reflected their pride in her. “A bright moment in dark times,” said Nadeem Paracha , a news media commentator on Twitter. The overall reactions from Pakistani and Indian people were enthusiastic and positive. They saw the shared win as a welcome sign of the unified interest in education and improving the lives of millions of abused children.
Malala Yousafzai` remained humble in the face of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Her simple words reflected her inner spirit as she dedicated the prize to the “voiceless”. Her message was, “This award is for all those children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard. I speak for them, and I stand up with them.”