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Malala Yousafzai Becomes Youngest Winner of Nobel Peace Prize

By Ross Brenneman — October 10, 2014 2 min read

Malala Yousafzai, a 17-year-old girl widely known for vigorously defending the right of women to have an education, will win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel committee announced the news early Friday morning, which has already been greeted enthusiastically. Yousafzai had been a popular contender for the prize last year, and will now also be the youngest-ever winner of it.

Yousafzai will share the award with another child-rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi, a 60-year-old Indian man who has been working to eliminate child trafficking and exploitation.

Yousafzai gained international prominence in October 2012 after she and two other girls, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, were shot on a school bus by members of the Taliban, which actively seeks to repress women’s education. Yousafzai spent time recovering in England, where she now lives.

In announcing the award, the committee paid tribute to the importance of education for the world:

“It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.”

The committee also noted the role that children have in improving their own educations:

Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.

Malala was busy with school during the announcement, but others celebrated on her behalf. In a statement on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers, president Randi Weingarten praised the winners’ courageous efforts, saying that, “Malala and Kailash’s work reminds us that much still needs to be accomplished to ensure that all children, regardless of gender, family income, religion or homeland, are able to go to school and have the chance to reach their God-given potential.”

Other notes of congratulations poured out on Twitter:




Image: Malala Yousafzai appears at the International Day of the Girl at the World Bank last year in Washington. --Susan Walsh/AP-File

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.

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