She’s 17. She’s the youngest Nobel laureate. She’s a best-selling author. She survived a Taliban assassination attempt.
She’s Malala Yousafzai, and she’s proud to be a woman, even if her home country doesn’t value her gender. On Tuesday, Yousafzai accepted the National Constitution Center’s 2014 Liberty Medal.
“I realized that liberty comes at a high price,” Yousafzai said to the crowd. “The Taliban — they hit me in order to silence me. But I think they committed a big mistake. Weakness and fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
Yousafzai, a persecuted advocate for young women’s education in her home country of Pakistan, was awarded the honor for her courage and resilience in the face of adversity. The medal is intended for those who fight for freedom worldwide.
“I stand here with this medal, and this has been given to me for my work which I want to [do] for the education of girls, for the education of every child,” Yousafzai said. “There are still 57 million children who are out of school, and we all need to protect children’s rights.
“So, I call upon the world’s leaders to come together and and consider it important.”
Because of Yousafzai’s staunch support for women’s education, she has frequently come under attack from terrorists and extremists. Using the pen name Gul Makai, and at age 11, she began writing for the BBC about her life and the lack of education for young women in Pakistan under Taliban rule.
While she received praise for her work on gender equality, the Taliban attempted to assassinate Yousafzai in 2012. She was 14.
Earlier this year, Yousafzai was named as co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest recipient of the award. She is now the youngest Liberty Medal recipient. Along with the medal comes $100,000 which Yousafzai said she will give to a Pakistani education fund.
“No girl, no child, anywhere in this world, should be deprived of education,” Yousafzai said. “Let us stand together for liberty, for peace and for education. Because together, we’re stronger.”