Malala Yousafzai deserves the Nobel peace prize

Written by Mariela Baeva on 9 December 2014 in Opinion

The Nobel peace prize is for the new and brave nobility, says Mariela Baeva.

She found out about her Nobel peace prize during her chemistry class at school in Birmingham, England. It came two years after she was brutally shot in the head while on the bus to school in Mingora, Pakistan, simply for raising her voice against the Taliban regime that banned girls from going to school.

On 20 November 2013, at the Sakharov prize ceremony in Strasbourg, as the youngest laureate of the award ever, she addressed the European parliament. There she said that young people deprived of education do not want an iPhone, an Xbox, a PlayStation or chocolates, "They just want a book and a pen."

"Malala is a standing and visible icon of courage in our hearts and our souls, and we are more determined than ever in the struggle for educating our sisters" - Nangyalai Attal

Her name is Malala Yousafzai, the teenage education campaigner. In 2014, she will become the first Pakistani and the first young person to receive the Nobel peace prize, alongside Kailash Satyarthi, for children's rights campaigning and overcoming obstacles to education, such as child labour, child marriage, discrimination against girls and children with disabilities.

"Today," says young Nangyalai Attal from Afghanistan, "Malala is a standing and visible icon of courage in our hearts and our souls, and we are more determined than ever in the struggle for educating our sisters."

There will be many of us attending the Nobel peace prize ceremony in the Oslo city hall on Wednesday 10 December, and the live CNN programme hosted by Christiane Amanpour. It will be mentioned, during our informal discourses, that earlier this year Malala and her father Ziadduin visited the Syrian-Jordan border crossing at Hadalat to meet refugees and their children.

She has also donated to the rebuilding of UN run schools damaged in the Gaza conflict, where roughly 240,000 children are educated. And she has been at the centre of international campaigns advocating for human rights and access to education for all irrespective of gender, religion, ethnicity or economic status.

I have become part of Malala's life story, since 2007 when I joined the European parliament's delegation for relations with countries of South Asia. I followed activities in the region, meeting people and discussing burning issues.

The culmination of my work was in 2013, when my initiative to the European parliament – Graham Watson leading the supporters of the idea – to nominate Malala for 2013 Sakharov prize for freedom of thought was successful. It was a memorable moment.

As memorable as it was when Malala spoke out for the first time in public on girls' education at the UN headquarters in 2013, wearing Benazir Bhutto's pink shawl. At the Nobel peace prize concert, 'Girls of the World' will pay tribute to the Pakistani girl and perform the "I Am Malala" song. The main purpose of the song is to raise awareness among young people, that there are places in the world where girls cannot go to school.

We're #UpForSchool.

We are Malala. We are Shazia Ramzan. We are Kainat Riaz…They are the two girls, Malala's friends, who were also injured in the fateful attack in Mingora. Two years later, they have become empowered young women, and this is an historic opportunity for them to make a positive change. The Nobel peace prize is for the new and brave nobility.


About the author

Mariela Baeva is a former ALDE MEP (from 2007-2009) and was a member of parliament's delegation for relations with south Asia

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