Teenage education advocate to receive 2014 Liberty Medal
The National Constitution Center gives the award annually
July 2, 2014, 6:35 pm · Updated July 5, 2014, 8:06 pm·
Malala Yousafzai, a 17-year old Pakistani education activist and assassination survivor, will receive the 2014 Liberty Medal, the National Constitution Center announced on Sunday.
Yousafzai — who was a runner-up for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year award in 2013 — is also the youngest person ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Yousafzai will receive the award during the 26th annual Liberty Medal ceremony, which will be held on October 21 at the National Constitution Center in Old City. A small number of tickets will be available to the public starting on September 23.
“It’s an honor to be awarded the Liberty Medal,” Yousafzai said in a press release. “I accept this award on behalf of all the children around the world who are struggling to get an education.”
At age 11, Yousafzai entered the international lens by writing under a pen name for the British Broadcasting Corporation about her life under the Taliban, often focusing on her family’s fight for girls’ education in her Pakistani community.
Yousafzai’s efforts earned her the Pakistan National Youth Peace Prize in 2011 and a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in the same year.
In 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban as she rode the bus home from school. Amazingly, she survived, and continues to campaign for education.
“Every day, around the world, individuals like Ms. Yousafzai are being threatened for asserting the same fundamental rights of speech and religious conscience that are inherent in all people,” National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen said in the Constitution Center’s release. “Yet, she is undeterred in her quest. She is an inspiring voice for liberty across the globe.”
United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched the Malala Petition, named after Yousafzai, to advocate for universal primary education around the world by 2015. The petition led Pakistan to ratify the country’s first Right to Education bill.
Yousafzai’s memoir, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” is a New York Times Bestseller, while her nonprofit organization — called the Malala Fund — continues to empower girls to strive for change through education.
Started in 1988, the Liberty Medal is an award given annually by the National Constitution Center to men and women of “courage and conviction, who have strived to secure the blessings of liberty to people the world over,” according to the official description.
Past recipients include Muhammad Ali, Steven Spielberg, Sandra Day O’Connor, Nelson Mandela, and Hillary Clinton in 2013.