NEW YORK - The 2014 Liberty Medal, a prestigious American award, will be bestowed upon Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient in the medal’s 25-year history, at an October ceremony in Philadelphia, the largest city in the US State of Pennsylvania.
She 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. I accept this award on behalf of all the children around the world who are struggling to get education,” she said on Sunday.
The prestigious medal is being awarded annually since 1989 when Polish Solidarity founder Lech Walesa became its first recipient.
Since then, recipients have included legendry boxer Muhammad Ali, former President Jimmy Carter, South African leader Nelson Mandela, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and, last year, the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Malala will receive the award at a ceremony at the centre in Philadelphia, on Oct. 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 Right to Education bill, the first in the 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.”
Malala is also the youngest person ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and was one of four runners-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2013. Addressing the United Nations on her 16th birthday, she said, “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” She was awarded the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize which is given every five years and has previously been bestowed upon Nelson Mandela, former US President Jimmy Carter and Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
She continues to champion universal access to education through the Malala Fund (malalafund.org), a nonprofit organisation that empowers girls through education to achieve their potential and change their communities. Malala to be youngest recipient of Liberty Medal