Malala Wins Prestigious European Parliament Human Rights Award

Malala Yousafzai

By Jelena Jovic and Robert Guttman

October 22, 2013

The Pakistani teen-ager, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head and the neck in a failed assassination attempt by the Taliban to silence this brave fifteen year—old from speaking out on women receiving equal education in her country, has been awarded the European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Human Rights for 2013.

“By awarding the Sakharov Prize to Malala Yousafzai, the European Parliament acknowledged the incredible strength of this young woman,’ the European Parliament President Martin Schulz.”

“Malala bravely stands for the rights of all children to be granted a fair education.  This right for girls is far too commonly neglected, Shulz said, stressing that today (October 11th) was International Day of the Girl Child, making her award all the more significant.”

“ She is an icon of courage for all teen-agers who dare to pursue their aspirations and, like a candle, she lights a path out of darkness,’ said Joseph Daul, chairman of the Center-Right EPP group.”

“The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament.  This prize was set up in 1988 to honor individuals or organizations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Sakharov was a noted Soviet activist for human rights who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The European Parliament award is named after the former Soviet physicist.

Previous winners have included former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Arab Spring activists, Nelson Mandela and former Czechoslovakian reformist Alexander Dubcek.

Malala was born in Pakistan on July 12, 1997. After the Taliban banned girls from school, Malala became an activist who advocated for rights for education for girls and women.  In early 2009, Malala wrote a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym.  After the New York Times documentary was filmed about her life, Malala was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.

On October 12, 2012, Malala was shot in the head and neck while returning home on a school bus.  She remained critical and unconscious and was airlifted to England to a hospital for her treatment.

Malala has been inspired by her father who is a teacher who also started a Pakistan advocating how women need an education.

Malala and her father met with President Obama earlier in October when she was in Washington, D.C.

The teen-age activist for women’s education said she will continue to speak out in favor of women and girls’ rights to education whether she is in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world.

“The Sakharov Prize symbolizes our appreciation of her efforts and should be a reminder to all of us that equality and the right to education cannot be taken for granted, “ said the president of the Socialist and Democratic Group in the European Parliament Hannes Swoboda.

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