Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who survived a violent attack by Taliban gunmen in retaliation for her advocacy of girls’ education, is the recipient of the 2012 Tipperary International Peace Award.
Yousafzai, a native of the Swat Valley region of Pakistan, gained prominence in 2009 after writing a blog for BBC Urdu chronicling her experience of the Taliban’s ban on girls’ schooling in the Swat Valley. She has since become a noted youth activist, serving as chairperson of the District Child Assembly Swat and receiving Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.
In October, Malala sustained two near-fatal gunshot wounds to the head and neck on her way home from school. After initial care in Pakistan, she was airlifted to the UK for intensive rehabilitation. Yousafzai was discharged from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham on January 4, and will undergo cranial reconstructive surgery in early February. She and her family are likely to remain in the UK.
Granted annually by the Tipperary Peace Convention, the Tipperary International Peace Award has previously recognized South African president Nelson Mandela, former US president Bill Clinton, and former prime minister of Pakistan the late Benazir Bhutto, and most recently, former President of Ireland Mary McAleese and her husband, Senator Martin McAleese. A date for Yousafzai’s award ceremony has yet to be confirmed.
In a release, the Tipperary Peace Convention praised Malala’s bravery, stating that “her courage has proved to be an inspiration around the globe.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian Congress Leader Sonia Gandhi were among the five other 2012 finalists. Malala is youngest person ever to receive the award.
“The right to education is denied to 61 million children of primary school age around the world and the hopes of these children are represented by the courage, determination and by the voice of Malala Yousafzai,” the convention’s release continued.
“The Taliban tried and failed to silence her and have instead amplified her voice.”