A Pashtun Joan of Arc

Malala - Pashtun Joan of Arc

Malala – Pashtun Joan of Arc

The world watched with pride as Malala from Pakistan and Satyarthi from India jointly received the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”. It was an awesome moment. Accepting the award in Oslo on December 10, all of seventeen, Malala clearly stole the show. One was humbled by her gesture of giving away the award money to the fund for building schools.

This proud Pashtun displayed such magnetism and confidence – she had the audience delighted by her lovely acceptance speech. She is the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Born on July 12, 1997 in Pakhtunkhwa province of Pashtun ethnicity,  as she elaborated on the stage yesterday, her name Malala means “grief-stricken”! She speaks flawless Pashto, English and Urdu. In the wake of tragic attempt to kill her, over 2 million people signed the Right to Education campaign’s petition that led to ratification of the first Right to Education Bill in Pakistan.

World outpouring continued unabated after the dastardly act. Malala Yousafzai first drew the public eye when her cry for education became known through the diary published on BBC Urdu. But when she was shot in the head in October 2012 by Taliban she captured the international imagination. Surviving the dramatic assault when a militant shot her in the school bus in Swat her home town, she was badly wounded.  Since then her she has had a fan following like no other. If the standing ovation at the ceremony is anything to go by, Malala yet continues to set sparks afire. And with such utter humility.

Besides the Nobel Peace Prize, she is the recipient of Sakharov Prize, Simone de Beauvoir Prize, National Youth Peace Prize and has an honorary Canadian citizenship. Malala Yousafzai is now turned to be a Pakistani activist for female education. She has become an icon for the fight for children’s education rights. “I had two options – one was to remain silent and wait to be killed,” Yousafzai said. “And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.” Her incredible speech will be remembered in a long long time.

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