Malala Yousafzai wins Sakharov Prize
Pakistani schoolgirl is strong contender for Nobel Peace Prize
A woman browses a copy of Malala Yousufzai’s book “I am Malala” at a book store in Islamabad. Photograph: Reuters
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, has been awarded the EU’s Sakharov Prize, fuelling speculation that the teenager could be the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize which will be announced today.
The 16-year-old campaigner for women’s education was awarded the prestigious human rights prize, which is awarded by the European Parliament annually, ahead of fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was controversially shortlisted.
Announcing the award in Strasbourg yesterday, Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said the award reflected the “incredible strength” of Ms Yousafzai who has reminded the world of its “duty and responsibility to the right to education for children”.
Ms Yousafzai will be invited to receive the prize at a ceremony in Strasbourg on November 20th.
The award comes just a year after Ms Yousafzai was shot in the head by a masked assassin while travelling home from school in a pick-up truck in the Taliban-controlled Swat district in Pakistan.
Ms Yousafzai had risen to public attention in Pakistan having publicly campaigned for educational equality since the age of 11, writing a blog for the BBC and appearing on various media outlets in Pakistan. A year before the shooting she was awarded a National Peace Award by the Pakistan government.
After initial treatment in Pakistan following the shooting, she was moved to Birmingham in the UK, and was discharged from hospital in January. She commenced school in the UK in March, quickly becoming a figure of global prominence.
She addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York on her 16th birthday in July, while in April she appeared on the cover of Time magazine, named as one of the publication’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Ms Yousafzai’s assassin is still at large, and she has received death threats from the Taliban since the shooting.