Less than two weeks after winning the Nobel Peace Prize Malala Yousafzai received the Liberty Medal on Tuesday. The child rights activist pledged the $100,000 award for education in Pakistan.
According to National Constitution Center, Malala won the annual prize for her “courage and resilience in the face of adversity and for serving as a powerful voice for those who have been denied their basic human rights and liberties.” The ceremony was attended by dignitaries including Malala’s father and Pakistan’s permanent ambassador to the UN Masood Khan.
Addressing the ceremony, the 17-year-old child rights activist outlined her desire to see 57 million children out of school given the right to
“I’m honored to receive this medal,” she said in an address peppered with jokes.
“It encourages me to continue my campaign for education and to fight for the rights of every child,” she added, announcing that the money would go toward education in Pakistan. She called on countries around the world to stop spending money on weapons and instead invest in their children’s futures.
The young activist also condemned the killings of children in Palestine, asking why they are being killed and that “their fault is to be born in that area.”
She also raised a voice against the kidnapping of more than 200 girls by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria, hoping that they will be released soon.
Earlier this month, Malala – who survived an attack by the Taliban in 2012 – was recognised for fighting for years for the right of girls to education by the Norwegian Nobel committee.
Evacuated to Britain, she made a remarkable recovery and today attends school and flies around the world to champion for universal access to education through her Malala Fund charity.
“Even though there are efforts under the Malala Fund, there are 59 million children out of school which need combined efforts,” Malala said.
She said she thought in her childhood she would be able to help every child go to school, however with the passage of time she realised that that goal is far away.
“Malala’s courageous fight for equality and liberty from tyranny is evidence that a passionate, committed leader, regardless of age, has the power to ignite a movement for reform,” said NCC chairman Jeb Bush. The Liberty Medal is awarded to people who strive to secure freedom for people around the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2014.