UN - Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year for promoting education for girls and women, is among the winners of the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize, the UN has announced.
The prestigious prize is an honorary award conferred upon individuals and organizations in recognition of their extraordinary achievement in human rights. South Africa’s late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and Amnesty International and former US President Jimmy Carter are among the eminent recipients of the prize, which is bestowed every five years. In 2008, former Pakistani
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was pasthumously conferred the prize for her commitment to women’s rights and strengthening democracy. On Thursday, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced six winners of the prize, who are Biram Dah Abeid of Mauritania, a son of freed slaves who works to eradicate the heinous slavery; Hiljmnijeta Apuk of Kosovo, a campaigner for the rights of people with disproportional restricted growth; Liisa Kauppinen of Finland, the president emeritus of the World Federation of the Deaf; Khadija Ryadi, former president of the Morocco Association for Human Rights; Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice; and Malala Yousafzai.
“The prize is an opportunity not only to give public recognition to the achievements of the recipients themselves, but also to send a clear message to human rights defenders the world over that the international community is grateful for, and supports, their tireless efforts to promote all human rights for all,” the OHCHR said in a statement.
The award ceremony is scheduled to take place on December 10 at the UN headquarters in New York. On July 12, Malala celebrated her 16th birthday with a passionate speech at the UN headquarters, in which she said education can change the world.
“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution,” she told UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon and about 1,000 youth leaders from over 100 countries attending an international Youth Assembly at the UN.
Malala, who was also nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, was given the European Union’s Sakharov human rights prize at a ceremony held on World Children’s Day last week.
The UN speech was her first public address after she was gunned down while returning from her school. She has been credited with bringing the issue of women’s education to global attention. “They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed and out of that silence came thousands of voices,” Malala said.
“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born,” she stated. A day after she was shot, a bullet which hit Malala’s skull was removed by surgeons in Peshawar. She was later transferred to a military hospital in Rawalpindi for more specialist treatment. he is currently living in Britain, where she underwent successful surgery on her skull and ear. Surgeons replaced part of Malala’s skull with a titanium plate and inserted a cochlear implant in her left ear to restore her hearing. In December 2012, Pakistan and UNESCO unveiled the Malala Plan, which aims to get all the girls in the world into school by the end of 2015.