Malala Yousafzai Did Not Win a Nobel Peace Prize, But She’s Still Cool

By Ross Brenneman — October 11, 2013 1 min read
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Malala Yousafzai, the young advocate for women’s access to education, did not win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, but she’s still had a big year.

The Nobel committee announced this morning that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (or OPCW) has won this year’s peace prize, for its work in eliminating chemical weapons around the world since its formation in 1997.

The Nobel Prize might be one area where it actually is an honor just to be nominated, because it brings attention to important causes, like that of Malala, the prize’s youngest nominee ever and a popular contender for this year’s award.

Just over one year ago today, Talibani gunmen in Pakistan entered the school bus of 15-year-old Malala, an outspoken critic of the Taliban’s anti-female actions, and shot her twice, along with two of her peers.

All survived, and Yousafzai was nursed back to health in England. Throughout her recovery and after, Malala has continued to be a prominent proponent of women’s rights, and especially for the right of women to attend school, which the Taliban actively opposes.

In a thoughtful op-ed, Guardian intern Dhiya Kuriakose wrote that, while she deeply admired Malala, she hoped the teenager wouldn’t win, in favor of a campaign with less renown.

“The Nobel Peace Prize is most effective when it highlights a lengthy struggle or the work of a person or group that have not got due recognition,” Kuriakose writes.

Kuriakose is probably correct that Malala has a strong platform from which to speak already, although I don’t think news dissemination is so spectacular that the message wouldn’t be further strengthened by the reception of a Nobel Prize. But the nomination itself has certainly bolstered her campaign.

Malala has a foundation and a new book, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education, and she has been going around the U.S. media circuit this week. One of those stops included “The Daily Show,” where she mesmerized host Jon Stewart with her campaign.

Here’s the full interview:

Image: Malala Yousafzai, 16, poses for photographs on Thursday in New York. —Frank Franklin II/AP

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.