On Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai a UN Messenger of Peace on Monday to promote girls education, more than four years after a Taliban gunman shot her in the head on her school bus in 2012.
At 19, Yousafzai is the youngest Messenger of Peace, the highest honour given by the UN, for an initial period of two years. She was also the youngest person to win the Nobel peace prize in 2014 when she was 17.
As a Messenger of Peace, Malala joins eminent personalities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Charlize Theron who also received the honour for their work in the fields of climate change and the prevention of HIV, respectively.
The Pakistani education activist came to prominence when a Taliban gunman shot her in the head in 2012 as she was leaving school in Pakistan's Swat Valley, northwest of the country's capital Islamabad. She was targeted for her campaign against efforts by the Taliban to deny women education.
Yousafzai said on Monday:
“The extremists tried all their best to stop me, they tried to kill me and they didn’t succeed... Now this is a new life, this is a second life and it is for the purpose of education.”
The 19-year-old Pakistani activist called herself a proud Muslim, stressed that Islam means peace, and expressed great disappointment that Muslims are portrayed in the media as "terrorists" and "jihadists."
Guterres told Yousafzai that she wasn’t just a hero but a very committed and ‘generous person’. As the UN Messenger of Peace, he felt that Yousafzai could do even more to create a more peaceful and just world.
UN Secretary-General Guterres said on his selection of Yousafzai Even in the face of grave danger, Malala has shown an unwavering commitment to the rights of women, girls and all people... Her courageous activism for girls’ education has already energised so many people around the world
Along with her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, she founded the ‘Malala Fund’ in 2013 to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of education for girls, and to empower more girls to demand change.
Yousafzai’s humanitarian work has taken her across the globe, as she has become a regular speaker on the global stage and visited refugee camps in Rwanda and Kenya last July to highlight the plight of refugee girls from Burundi and Somalia.
She now lives in Britain, where she received medical treatment after she was shot. Yousafzai said that when she finishes secondary school in June, she would like to study philosophy, politics and economics at university
(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)
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