New Delhi: Seventeen-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai on Friday said she was in her Chemistry classes when the teacher informed her of the award and she has since felt "honoured" to be the first Pakistani and the youngest person to be given the award.
Malala dedicated the award to the "voiceless" children and said this was a message to kids all around the world that they should stand up for their rights. "This award is for all those children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard," she said.
The award, she said, was not just a medal for her but an encouragement as well. “This is a message that people are standing with me in my fight,” she added.
Malala shares her award with 60-year-old Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi who has freed over 80,000 children from various forms of servitude and helped in their reintegration, rehabilitation and education. The Pakistani teenager said that sharing the honours with Satyarthi signified a lot for her, and averred, “It gives a message to people of love between Pakistan and India, and of different religions.”
Malala expressed her happiness at being chosen for the award alongwith Satyarthi, and vouched to work with him in the future. “I talked over the phone with him and we both decided that we'll work together for the rights of children,” she said.
Although 'honoured' to be sharing the medal with an Indian, Malala expressed her sadness at the state of ties between the two neighbouring countries.
“We know that there are tensions on the Indo-Pak border – it is disappointing and saddening.
I want India and Pakistan to have a dialogue, to think about peace and development, education and progress,” she said.
And with an aim to contribute her bit to bettering Indo-Pak relations, she invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Mian Nawaz Sharif to attend the award ceremony in December.
Malala has been a staunch campaigner for girls' education – an initiative that wasn't much-liked by hardliners in Pakistan. She was shot in the head in 2012 in Mingora town of northwest Swat region by Pakistani Taliban militants who opposed education of girls.
The young crusader, who had earlier expressed her desire to become a doctor, said she now wants to become a politician, and summed up saying, “I only had two choices — to not speak up and be killed. And to speak and be killed. I chose the latter.”