On April 11, at 19-years-old, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to receive the United Nation’s highest honor given to a civilian – the Messenger of Peace designation.
In 2012, Yousafzai made headlines across the globe when she was shot by the Taliban for speaking out on the right of education to girls.
After her recovery in the U.K., Yousafzai became an even bigger champion for girls’ education. She co-founded the Malala Fund to push for change around the world.
“I stood here on this stage almost three-and-a-half years ago, when it was my 16th birthday and it was my first appearance after the attack,” she said at her U.N. acceptance speech.
Her biggest and most noted prize to date was in 2014, where at the age of 17, she became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The recipient of the Messenger of Peace is assigned to help the U.N. raise awareness for a global issue for at least two years – for Yousafzai, that will be girls’ education.
“I told the world that education is the basic human right of every girl and that no child should be denied this right,” said Yousafzai. “I stand here again today and say the same thing, that education is the right of every child and especially for girls, this right should not be neglected… Once you educate girls, you change the whole community, you change the whole society.”
Yousafzai is heading off to college in the fall. In January, she launched a new initiative called the Gulmakai Network. It is to benefit community leaders like herself and her father. Her summer plans include embarking on a cross-continental “Girl Power Trip” to meet with students and fellow education activists in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, where she hopes to instill empowerment and encouragement to pursue their educational goals.
In an April 3 press release, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau wrote that Yousafzai’s “courageous response to those who threatened her life and her advocacy for girls’ education has inspired many millions of people around the world.”