The National Constitution Center on Sunday announced that the 2014 Liberty Medal will go to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who rose to prominence as an advocate for female education in her country — and was shot by the Taliban for her efforts.
Ms. Yousafzai came to international attention at the age of eleven by writing for the BBC about life under the Taliban in her native Pakistan. Using the pen name Gul Makai, she often spoke about her family’s fight for girls’ education in her community. For her outspokenness, Yousafzai received the Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize in 2011 and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in the same year. In October 2012, Yousafzai was the target of an assassination plot by the Taliban and shot in the head as she was returning from school on a bus. She miraculously survived and undeterred by the continued threats to her life and the life of her family, continued to campaign for education.
Ms. Yousafzai is the youngest person ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and was one of four runners-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2013. Addressing the United Nations on her 16th birthday, Yousafzai told the audience that “one child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” She was awarded the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize, which is given every five years and has previously been bestowed on such notable recipients as Nelson Mandela, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Previous winners of the Liberty Medal include Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Colin Powell, and Sandra Day O’Connor.