Surprise? Malala Receives Nobel Peace Prize

-by Kiran Butte- In the United States, access to a quality education is a right every citizen has, regardless of his or her gender, race, or social class. Winsor, and other institutions like it, value girls’ education greatly and strive to provide girls with the best schooling possible. However, education for girls is hardly a priority in many eastern countries, and in some countries, it simply does not exist. Malala Yousafzai, a 17 year old woman from Pakistan, came face-to-face with this injustice when the Taliban began attacking schools in her area and forced them to shut down. Outraged, Malala sought the help of her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, and gave speeches at schools and press clubs throughout Pakistan about the importance of universal education. She also started a blog for BBC, where she wrote about the oppression of the Taliban she and her village faced every day.

Malala's acceptance speech blew away her global audience (
Malala’s acceptance speech blew away her global audience

Yet just as Malala became a well-known activist for women’s rights and education, she also made herself a target for extremists who disagreed with her belief in gender equality. On October 9, when Malala was just 15, she was shot three times by a gunman from the Taliban as she boarded her school bus in the northwest district of Swat, Pakistan. The shooting left her in critical condition, but after months of intensive care, Malala fully recovered. She continued her schooling in England and resumed advocating for the right to education for people all over the world.


To recognize her efforts to promote the importance of girls’ education, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Malala Yousafzai the Nobel Peace Prize this past October.This makes her the second Pakistani to win the prize and the youngest recipient since its creation in 1901. Malala shares the honor with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children’s rights activist. Pakistanis and Indians, the majority of whom are Muslims and Hindus, respectively, share an infamous tension that stems from their religious differences and the violent partition of India that separated these two groups. The Norwegian Nobel Committee acknowledged the historically tumultuous relationship and saw this shared award as a symbol of union. They stated in the official announcement, “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”

Winsor girls often take the quality and accessibility of their education for granted, but it is people like Malala Yousafzai who remind us how lucky we are and how important it is to stand up for what we believe in. She endured threats and an attempted assassination, yet she remains firm in her position as a leader in the movement of female education rights. Malala’s ability to rise from oppression and make a difference in the education of women is a major step forward in the issue of universal women’s rights.