NEW YORK: Young Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai, who survived an assassination attempt in Mingora, Swat, some two years ago, has won the 2014 Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the largest city in the US State of Pennsylvania.Malala, 17, will be honoured for “her continued demonstration of courage and resilience in the face of adversity and for serving as a powerful voice for those who have been denied their basic human rights and liberties,” the National Constitution Center said in a statement. “It’s an honour to be awarded the Liberty Medal,” she said on Sunday. “I accept this award on behalf of all the children around the world who are struggling to get an education.”
The prestigious medal has been awarded annually since 1989, when Polish Solidarity founder Lech Walesa received it first. Since then, recipients have included legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, former president Jimmy Carter, South African leader Nelson Mandela, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and, last year, then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Malala, the youngest recipient in the medal’s 25-year history, will receive the award at a ceremony at the center in Philadelphia, on October 21.
After surviving the Taliban attack, Malala continued to be an outspoken advocate on education, prompting Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, to petition the agency to recommit to a goal of universal primary education for children around the world.
The petition gained more than 3 million signatures and helped lead Pakistan to pass a Right to Education bill, a first in that country.
“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,” Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the chairman of the National Constitution Center. Jeb, who belongs to the prominent Bush family, is being mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.
“Every day, around the world, individuals like Malala Yousafzai are being threatened for asserting the same fundamental rights of speech and religious conscience that are inherent in all people,” said Jeffrey Rosen, the center’s president and chief executive officer. “Yet she is undeterred in her quest. She is an inspiring voice for liberty across the globe.”
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