Malala Yousafzai honoured at Harvard for humanitarian work
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Last Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013, 17:40
  
London: The Taliban is afraid of women's power and the power of education, said Pakistani teenager activist Malala Yousafzai as she has been honoured by the prestigious Harvard University.

Yousafzai, 16, an outspoken proponent for girls' education who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, was at Harvard on Friday to accept the 2013 Peter J Gomes humanitarian award.

Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust said she was pleased to welcome Malala because of their shared interest in education.

Malala was shot in the head last October. Militants said she was attacked because she criticised the Taliban, not because of her views on education.

"The so-called Taliban were afraid of women's power and were afraid of the power of education," Malala told hundreds of students, faculty members and well-wishers who packed Harvard's ornate Sanders Theater for the award ceremony.

According to a report in the Guardian, the teenage activist said she hopes to become a politician because politicians can have influence on a broad scale.

She spoke nostalgically about her home region, the Swat valley, and said she hopes to return someday.

She called it a "paradise" but described a dangerous area where militants blew up dozens of schools and sought to discourage girls from going to school by snatching pens from their hands.

Students, she said, reacted by hiding their books under their shawls so that people wouldn't know they were going to school.

Malala highlighted the fact that very few people spoke out against what was happening in her home region.

"Although few people spoke, but the voice for peace and education was powerful," she said.

Malala also described waking up in a UK hospital, where she was taken for emergency treatment following the assassination attempt in Pakistan.

"And when I was in Birmingham, I didn't know where I was, I didn't know where my parents are, I didn't know who has shot me and I had no idea what was happening," she said. "But I thank God that I'm alive."

The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel peace prize committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, paid a special tribute to Malala in a message read publicly during her award ceremony.

"Your courage," Jagland said in the tribute, "is sending a strong message to women to stand up for their rights, which constitutes a precondition for peace."

PTI


First Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013, 17:40


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