Pak Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai honoured in Philadelphia

  • AP, Philadelphia
  • Updated: Oct 22, 2014 08:55 IST

A Pakistani teenager awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote girls' education has been honoured with the Liberty Medal.

Malala Yousafzai accepted the medal, which is given annually at the National Constitution Center to someone who strives to secure freedom for people around the world, on Tuesday. She said education is the best weapon against poverty, ignorance and terrorism.

Yousafzai, who's 17, recently became the world's youngest Nobel laureate. Organizers of the Liberty Medal ceremony didn't know that would be the case when they decided months ago to honor her.

But the coincidence might have been expected: Yousafzai has become the seventh Liberty Medal recipient to subsequently receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

"Malala's courageous fight for equality and liberty from tyranny is evidence that a passionate, committed leader, regardless of age, has the power to ignite a movement for reform," said Jeb Bush, chairman of the National Constitution Center, which sponsors the medal.

Yousafzai began her activism six years ago by using an alias to write for the BBC about living under Taliban rule. In 2012, a Taliban gunman shot her in the head while she was returning from school because of her vocal support for gender equality and education for girls.

She ended up being treated for her injury in Britain, where she recovered and continues to live with her family. She has continued her activism on those issues through speaking engagements, a best-selling book and a nonprofit organization called the Malala Fund.

Her appearance in Philadelphia on Tuesday came less than two weeks after she became the youngest Nobel laureate, sharing the prize with Kailash Satyarthi, a children's rights activist from India.

The Liberty Medal comes with a $100,000 award. Organizers cited Yousafzai's courage, resilience and advocacy for those denied basic human rights and liberties.

"I accept this award on behalf of all the children around the world who are struggling to get an education," Yousafzai said in a statement when the award was announced in June.

The National Constitution Center is dedicated to increasing public understanding of the Constitution and the ideas and values it represents.

Previous recipients of the Liberty Medal who went on to win the Peace Prize include former South African President Nelson Mandela, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former US President Jimmy Carter.

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