Malala: The Young Nobel Hero
What an astounding young lady our Nobel Hero from Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai has proven to be.
At only 17 years old she is the youngest to ever have received the honor of being the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
We believe that she has more courage than most other political figures, many of which are far older than she is.
She first began to engage in political activity while living in her native Swat-valley home in the north of Pakistan at the impressive young age of 15.
She was most devastatingly shot two years ago by the Taliban and survived against all odds.
Malala now continues to promote the respect and education of women within Islam and world wide.
As editors of the World Security Network Foundation, we had the honor to meet her during her press conference and the privilege to ask her about the promotion of tolerance. We were also fortunate enough to be present for her excellent speech during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies in Oslo, Norway.
Imagine you are 17 years old giving a speech to a King, a Queen and more than 1000 guests of honor in front of you...that was Malala in Oslo during her Nobel Lecture 2014 that took place at the impressive city hall.
These sentences left the most impact on us:
I want to see every child getting quality education.
Education is one of the blessings of life.
I decided to speak up-our voices have only grown louder.
One child,one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.
We must work and not wait-I call my fellow children to stand up.
Let this be the first time that a girl is told that education is a right
Let us build a better future right here, right now.
It is more than worth the time to read her full Nobel Lecture to be able to understand the entire story so that you can discuss it with your friends and family (You can find the link at Nobelprize.org!)
Here are important thoughts she had shared regarding her experiences and changing the world into a better place:
"This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.
I am here to stand up for their rights, raise their voice ... it is not time to pity them. It is time to take action so it becomes the last time that we see a child deprived of education.
Education is one of the blessings of life—and one of its necessities. That has been my experience during the 17 years in my life. In my home in Swat Valley, in the north of Pakistan, I always loved school and learning new things.
We had a thirst for education because our future was right there in that classroom. We would sit and read and learn together. We loved to wear neat and tidy school uniforms and we would sit there with big dreams in our eyes. We wanted to make our parents proud and prove that we could excel in our studies and achieve things, which some people think only boys can.
Things did not remain the same. When I was ten, Swat, which was a place of beauty and tourism, suddenly changed into a place of terrorism. More than 400 schools were destroyed. Girls were stopped from going to school. Women were flogged. Innocent people were killed. We all suffered. And our beautiful dreams turned into nightmares.
Education went from being a right to being a crime.
But when my world suddenly changed, my priorities changed too.
I had two options, one was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.
The terrorists tried to stop us and attacked me and my friends on 9th October 2012, but their bullets could not win.
We survived. And since that day, our voices have only grown louder.
It is not time to tell the leaders to realise how important education is - they already know it - their own children are in good schools. Now it is time to call them to take action.
We ask the world leaders to unite and make education their top priority. "
I had the pleasure of a great talk with her dynamic father, who told me: "Malala woke up in Birmingham in the UK after she was shot by the Taliban in 2012 in Pakistan- now with white nurses and doctors around her; her second birth."
Malala acknowledged and appreciated the 150 scholarships for boys and girls in the Pakistan tribal areas (FATA) that my World Security Network Foundation had organized in 2008.
She was smaller than we expected, like a lamb with the brain of a wise woman and a heart with the courage of a tiger. A serious and dedicated young lady with an important message for us all; "Wake up - do something!"
She started her Nobel Lecture in Oslo with the quote from the Holy Quran: „ Bismillah hir Rahma nir Rahim. In the name of God, the most beneficent, the most merciful." For me she is in line with the emancipated Muslim women like the first wife of Prophet Muhammad, successful business-women Khadijah from Mecca, or his four daughters Zaynab, Ruquayyah, Umm Kultum or Fatimah.
She is a role model for all Muslim girls and the rest of us around the world. May God bless her life!
You should not miss the opportunity to view the photos of the beautiful ceremony which our photographer Esra Rotthoff has taken for our project The Champions and the Art of Tolerance at her blog.