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Pakistani Education Activist Malala Yousafzai Becomes Youngest Winner of Nobel Peace Prize

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Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi have jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize. At age 17, Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Prize. In 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman who boarded her school bus. She survived and continued to campaign for the rights of girls to go to school. Satyarthi, age 60, has been a leader for decades in the international movement against child slavery and the exploitation of child workers. In a statement, the Nobel committee said it “regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.” Last year on July 12, her 16th birthday, Yousafzai appeared at the United Nations and delivered her first speech since she underwent surgery, saying she was undeterred by the Taliban’s efforts to silence her voice. The event marked a global day in her honor. We broadcast an excerpt from her address. “Let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are the most powerful weapons,” Yousafzai says. “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road broadcasting from Detroit, Michigan, from the studios of Detroit Public Television. This morning it was announced that Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi have jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize. The chair of the Nobel committee, former Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland, made the announcement this morning.

THORBJØRN JAGLAND: Ladies and gentleman, good morning. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for their struggle against oppression of young people and children, and children’s right to education. Children must go to school, not be financially exploited.

AMY GOODMAN: At age 17, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Prize. In 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman who boarded her school bus. She survived and continued to campaign for the rights of girls to go to school. Kailash Satyarthi, age 60, has been a leader for decades in the international movement against child slavery and the exploitation of child workers. In a statement, the Nobel committee said it, quote, “regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”

Last year, on July 12th, her 16th birthday, Malala Yousafzai appeared at the United Nations and delivered her first public speech since she underwent surgery, saying she was undeterred by the Taliban’s efforts to silence her voice. The event marked a global day in her honor. This is an extended excerpt of Malala Yousafzai’s address.

MALALA YOUSAFZAI: Dear friends, on the 9th of October, 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died; strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same.

Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion that I have learned from Muhammad, the prophet of mercy, and Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This the legacy of change that I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhiji, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother. This is what my soul is telling me: Be peaceful and love everyone.

Today, I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women social activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves. I’m not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights; rather, I am focusing on women to be independent, to fight for themselves.

So, dear sisters and brothers, now it’s time to speak up. So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favor of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all the peace deals must protect women’s and children’s rights. A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable. We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education all over the world for every child. We call upon all the governments to fight against terrorism and violence, to protect children from brutality and harm. We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of education opportunities for girls in the developing world. We call upon all the communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, color, religion or agenda, to ensure freedom and equality for women so that they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave, to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential.

Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child’s bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education. No one can stop us. We will speak up for our rights, and we will bring change through our voice. We believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the whole world, because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge, and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty, injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of their schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright, peaceful future. So let us wage—so let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism. Let us pick up—let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Malala Yousafzai, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last July on her 16th birthday. Today she became the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Prize. She shares the peace prize with Kailash Satyarthi, who’s been a leader for decades in the international movement against child slavery and the exploitation of child workers. He developed Rugmark, now known as Goodweave, which is a monitoring, labeling and certification system of rugs made in South Asia without child labor. The two will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10th, International Human Rights Day, in Oslo. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.

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