Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani teen named to receive 2014 Liberty Medal

Malala Yousafzai advocating education for girls on last year's International Day of the Girl in October.
Malala Yousafzai advocating education for girls on last year's International Day of the Girl in October. (SUSAN WALSH / Associated Press)
Posted: July 01, 2014

MALALA YOUSAFZAI was only 11 when she started writing an anonymous blog for the BBC describing what life was like under the Taliban after it took over Pakistan's Swat Valley, where she lived.

The Taliban was busily blowing up girls' schools. It banned girls' education, television, music, even women going shopping. The severed heads of murdered police officers were hung in town squares.

Malala's descriptions of this horror were broadcast to the world. Eventually, her identity was revealed and she went on to become an international spokeswoman for education and human dignity.

The Taliban tried to kill her, and still wants to kill her. Awards and honors have poured down on her; she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, made the cover of Time, spoke before the United Nations, and met with Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama and his family.

And she's not yet 17.

Now she has been named to receive Philadelphia's coveted 2014 Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center "for her continued demonstration of courage and resilience in the face of adversity and for serving as a powerful voice for those who have been denied their basic human rights and liberties."

"It's an honor to be awarded the Liberty Medal," she responded. "I accept this award on behalf of all the children around the world who are struggling to get an education."

The ceremony will take place on at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall.

Malala, who will turn 17 on July 12, is fortunate to be alive. A gunman fired three shots at her as she boarded her school bus on Oct. 9, 2012. One shot tore into the left side of her forehead. Months of medical treatment and rehabilitation followed.

After she recovered, she continued her advocacy for education and human rights, in addition to writing her best-selling memoir, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.

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