Malala dedicates Nobel award to ‘voiceless’ children

Education rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai dedicated her
Nobel peace prize on Friday to “voiceless” children around
the world, and called on the Indian and Pakistani prime
ministers to attend the award ceremony for the sake of
peace.
The 17-year-old, who heard the news while she was in a
chemistry lesson at school in Birmingham, central England,
said she was honoured to be the youngest person and the
first Pakistani to receive the accolade.
“The award is for all the children who are voiceless, whose
voices need to be heard,” Malala told a press conference,
held at the end of the school day so she wouldn’t miss class.
Malala arrived in Britain from Pakistan for medical
treatment after being shot in the head by a Taliban fighter in
October 2012, an attempt to silence her vocal advocacy of
the right of girls to go to school.
Standing on a box so she could reach the podium at
Birmingham’s main library, the teenager joked that winning
the Nobel would not help her upcoming school exams.
But she told an audience that included her parents and two
younger brothers: “I felt more powerful and more
courageous because this award is not just a piece of metal
or a medal you wear or an award you keep in your room.
“This is encouragement for me to go forward.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee gave the award to Malala
and Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi for their struggle against
the repression of children and young people and “for the
right of all children to education”.
Malala said she had already spoken to Satyarthi — she
joked that she could not pronounce his name — to discuss
how they could work together, and also try to reduce
tensions between their two countries.
To that end, she urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend the
Nobel award ceremony in December.
– ‘Courage, determination and vision’-
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, the United
Nations special envoy for global education, voiced delight at
the Nobel victory for Malala and Satyarthi.
“They are two of my best friends and two of the greatest
global campaigners who deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for
their courage, determination and for their vision that no
child should ever be left behind,” Brown said in a statement.
After visiting her in hospital, Brown took up Malala’s cause
with a petition for universal primary education handed to
the Pakistani government on a day he named Malala Day,
and later arranging for her to speak at the United Nations.
Britain’s International Development Secretary Justine
Greening also congratulated the joint winners saying the
prize was “richly deserved”.
The reaction in the streets of Birmingham, which has a large
minority population of Pakistani origin, was also
overwhelmingly positive.
“I like her. She’s confident, speaking up for herself, for
women,” said 30-year-old Zara Hussain as she waited at a
bus stop in Birmingham holding a baby.
“She could be president (of Pakistan) if she carries on.”
Imam Usman Mahmood of Birmingham central mosque,
which with 6,000 followers is one of the biggest in the city
and was visited by Malala and her family, also expressed his
delight.
“It means that any person who puts their mind to
something, they can achieve their goals. We wish her the
best when she carries on with her life and that she keeps on
going the way she is,” he said.
But local estate agent Basharat Hussain, 30, said: “I
personally think she shouldn’t have got it.
“She’s inspiring but I think they’re using her for political
motives, she’s been used by different organisations and
governments.”
The global spotlight has provoked a backlash in parts of
Pakistani society, with some accusing Malala of acting as a
puppet of the West, while the Taliban have renewed the
threat to her life.
There have also been concerns about exposing a child to
such a level of public exposure.
“I used to say that I think I do not deserve the Nobel peace
prize. I still believe that,” Malala said.
“But I believe it is not only an award for what I’ve done but
an encouragement for giving me hope, for giving me the
courage to go and continue this.”

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