Pakistani education activist Malala honored

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt last year, was honored Friday with the Children’s Peace Prize for her work promoting education for girls in her homeland.

The 16-year-old said she accepted the prize in the historic Knights’ Hall in The Hague “on behalf of all of the children in the world who are trying to go to school, and all of those parents who are overcoming fear and intimidation — or cultural opposition — to give their sons and daughters the chance of an education.”

Malala was 15 when she and two of her friends were attacked on their way home from school in Pakistan’s northwest Swat Valley. She survived a gunshot wound to her head and now attends school in England after being flown there for treatment.

She harked back to the attack that turned her into a household name in her emotional acceptance speech.

“In my home country of Pakistan, the Taliban uses terror to try and stop girls going to school,” she said. “I was just one target for their violence. There are many others whose names are not known. It is for them that we must continue our campaign to ensure that all children in the world have the chance to go to school.”

Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman handed Malala the prize, calling her “my hero” and saying “you have become an inexhaustible source of inspiration to millions of girls.”

Malala celebrated her 16th birthday on July 12 by giving a speech at the U.N. in New York, telling the body that the attack gave her new courage while demanding world leaders provide free education to all children.

The U.N. had declared her birthday “Malala Day,” but she insisted it was “the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.”

The Children’s Peace Prize is awarded each year by a Dutch foundation to honor the achievements of an inspirational child activist. The first prize was awarded posthumously in 2005 to South African youngster Nkosi Johnson for his work on behalf of children in his home country with HIV.

The award carries a prize of $132,000 that this year will be invested in education projects for girls in Pakistan.