Malala Yousafzai, 16 years old, is the proud recipient of the Sakharov Prize< for Freedom of Thought which was awarded to her for her stellar championship of girls' education in the tough territory of Mingora, in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Malala is in good company with other distinguished winners of the Sakharov Prize including South Africa's Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (Myanmar). The award will be officially presented at a ceremony in Strasbourg in November.
In 2012, Malala was identified and shot on a school bus for her outspoken advocacy in support of girls' education. Though young, Malala has been a shining and articulate star who rarely misses a beat even as she speaks at the United Nations and says: "Let us pick up our books and our pens," Ms. Yousafzai told young leaders from 100 countries at the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York. "They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution."
On the "Daily Show", sixteen-year-old Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai brought down the house, leaving the host Jon Stewart nearly speechless. When asked what she would do if attacked again by a Taliban gunman, she responded: "I would tell him how important education is and that I would even want education for your children as well," the Pakistani girl said. "That's what I want to tell you, now do what you want." The audience gave her a thunderous ovation, and Stewart, who listened intently as she spoke, then made her an offer "I know your father is backstage and he is very proud of you, but would he be mad if I adopted you?" The audience roared with laughter.
Malala combines mission and passion with a fearlessness for educating girls even as she sees the bullet ridden body of a murdered woman dancer, Shabana and says: "They cannot stop me." The unstoppable Malala in her 'advocacy crusade for girls' education says: "I will get my education, if it is home, school, or any place. This is our request to all the world. Save our schools. Save our world. Save our Pakistan. Save our Swat." Subsequently and unfortunately, schools in Swat were closed down.
In a speech at the opening ceremony of the Birmingham Library, Malala is eloquent:"There is no better way to explain the importance of books than to say that even God chose the medium of a book to send His message to His People"
While the world applauds Malala's courage and tenacity to fight for the rights of girls to be educated, she is considerably more suspect in Pakistan where she is viewed by some as "pandering to western culture and political agendas." This baffles me. How can a heroine like Malala be ridiculed?
If International Children's Peace Prize and the prestigious Sakharov Prize is not glory enough, Malala was also awarded the Anna Politkovskaya Award, named for the courageous Russian journalist and Kremlin critic who focused on the abuses in Chechnya only to be fatally shot in 2006.
Congratulations Malala. We applaud you.
Khadijah's daughters is a blog by Shahnaz Chinoy Taplin, board president of Invest in Muslim Women, a non-profit project of the Global Fund for Women. Invest in Muslim Women focuses on the economic empowerment of Muslim women, justice and peace. The blog is inspired by Khadijah, Prophet Muhammad's first wife and the quintessential role model for Muslim women. She was the first convert to Islam, the first Muslim woman entrepreneur, a globalist and a feminist