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Tuesday night at the National Constitution Center, nearly 1,500 people gathered to honor a young girl, Malala Yousafzai, with the Liberty Medal. Yousafzai stood up to the Taliban and spoke out about the inequality in education for girls in her native Swat Valley in Pakistan.
Malala wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC website in 2009 that detailed life under Taliban occupation. The following year, the New York Times made a documentary on her life. For her efforts, the Taliban attempted to assassinate her. That, Malala, said was a big mistake, as it buried any weakness and fear she had, and her strength and power were born. Her message on the Taliban was then broadcast around the world, and she spoke in front of the UN in 2013.
Today Malala and her family live in England where she attends school and experiences the more normal student dread of upcoming exams. Earlier in October, Malala was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her message for the right of all children to education. Even though she’s receiving many accolades, her teachers do not excuse her from her school work. The Emcee for the evening was Martha Raddatz, Chief Global Affairs Correspondent, ABC News.
Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Laureate ever on October 10th when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Kailash Satyarthi. At just 17, Malala was picked from 278 nominees, which included both Edward Snowden and Pope Francis.
Yousafzai and Satyarthi were chosen for their work promoting children’s rights. Yousafzai became an international spokesperson for girls’ rights to education at 11 years old, when she began writing for the BBC about her experience living under the Taliban. Though she was celebrated for speaking out, Malala became the target of an assassination attempt by the Taliban and was subsequently shot down in 2012. Since her miraculous recovery, and under continued threats, Yousafzai has continued her campaign for girls’ education. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement that Malala “has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.”
Satyarthi, an Indian children’s rights activist, has spent decades fighting child trafficking and forced labor in India. In 2013 Satyarthi launched the Save the Childhood Movement in an effort to identify and protect children from societal values that work to erode their childhoods. The Norwegian Nobel Committee added, “it is an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”
Earlier this year, Yousafzai was chosen to receive the 2014 Liberty Medal for her campaign for children’s educational rights and for finding courage despite the challenges she has faced. Yousafzai will be awarded the medal in the 26th Annual Liberty Medal Ceremony held Tuesday, October 21st at 7 p.m. at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall. Previous recipients include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Muhammad Ali, Tony Blair, and Bono.