Malala Yousafzai: Youngest Hero With Most Prestigious Honour

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Malala Yousafzai

It may interest you to know that Nobel Peace Prize is not the highest honour conferred on deserving individuals by the United Nations, though much revered globally. Rather, the highest honour by the United Nations is the UN Messenger of Peace. United Nations Messengers of peace are distinguished individuals, carefully selected from the field of art, literature, science, entertainment, sports, or other fields, who volunteer their time, talent and passion in drawing the attention of the world to the efforts of United Nations at improving the lives of global citizens everywhere.

UN Messenger of Peace has been conferred on many notable individuals like Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian and author of the best selling book, The Alchemist for his effort on intercultural dialogue and poverty alleviation; Leonardo DiCaprio, an award-winning actor, with a focus on environmental issues and climate change; Prof Wangari Maathai (Mrs.) a Kenyan academic, with a focus on the environment and climate change until her passing on 25 September 2011; Stevie Wonder who commits to advocating for persons with disabilities, among others.

History was made on 11 April 2017 in New York, when the UN Secretary-General Anthonio Guterres conferred Malala with the prestigious UN Messenger of Peace honour. The 19-year old Pakistani activist has prior to this time being the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, and now another feather to her cap, still the youngest to attain that height. Mr. Guterres described Malala as a "hero" and "the symbol of one of the most important courses in the world".

Malala is known for her courageous activism on the right to education, especially for women and girls and her unwavering commitment to peace. Her global popularity began in 2012 after she was shot in the head and neck by a terrorist group in Pakistan, an attack that nearly took her life but for providence and comprehensive medical attention. Prior to the attack, she had been an anonymous blogger for BBC Urdu, through which she wrote on her ordeal with the forces that actively opposed girls education in her country. For the fear of assassination, no pupil dared volunteer to communicate their personal experience to BBC, but Malala, with the support of her mum who was a school teacher did. Her courage was inspiring, even when she was the only girl going to school while others stayed at home due to the embargo by the terrorist. In fact, when the attempt on her life became an obvious insinuation, one of her blog entries reads – "I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our right."

In her acceptance speech, as monitored on CNN, she said "…on this stage almost three and a half years ago…I told the world that education is the basic human right of every girl. And I stand here again today and say the same thing…Once you educate girls, you change the whole community…" She encouraged girls in her home country and around the world to believe in themselves and stand up for their right.

The story of Malala should serve as an encouragement and a model to girls in Third World countries. The terrorists’ goals was to change her aim and stop her ambition but nothing changed except that her fear, and weakness died while strength, and courage were birthed. And as she continued to pursue her goals with passion, the results are evident. Once you are determined, and rise up to take passionate steps towards the fulfilment of your dream, you will be unstoppable.

Dear girls and boys, the reason why they don’t want you to get education is because they know you’ll become aware of your rights and privileges and how to demand it, thereby developing your potentials and putting an end to their oppression of you. So why don’t you stand up, get registered in a school and attend fully. If you’re refused, speak up against the injustice, there is a listening ear waiting to hear you out and come to your aid.

To know about The Malala Fund, visit her website

You could also read further about her on Wikipedia.

Related Post: What to Do When School Doesn’t Make Sense.

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