Youngest Nobel peace prize winner says the award signals ‘only the start’ of her campaigning for child educationtheguardian.com, Friday 10 October 2014
Malala Yousafzai says she feels more powerful and more courageous ‘because this award is not just a piece of metal or a medal you wear or an award you keep in your room’. Photograph: Cyril Villemain/Sipa/Rex
Education campaigner Malala Yousafzai revealed she learnt she had won the Nobel peace prize in her chemistry lesson, as she spoke of her honour at receiving the accolade.
Speaking after finishing the school day at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham, the 17-year-old said: “I’m proud I’m the first Pakistani and the first young woman or the first young person who is getting this award. It’s a great honour for me.
“I’m also really happy that I’m sharing this award with a person from India, whose name is Kailash Satyarthi. His great work for child’s rights and against child slavery totally inspires me.
“I’m really happy there are so many people working for children’s rights and I’m not alone. He totally deserves this award and I’m really honoured that I’m sharing this award with him.
“We are the two Nobel award receivers – one is from Pakistan, one is from India. One believes in Hinduism, one strongly believes in Islam.
“It is a message to people. A message to people of love between Pakistan and India and between different religions. And we both support each other. It does not matter the colour of your skin, what language you speak, what religion you believe in.
“It is that we should all consider each other as human beings and respect each other. We should all fight for our rights, for the rights of women, for the rights of children, for the rights of every human being.
“First of all I would like to thank my family, my dear father and my dear mother, for their love and support. As my father always said, he did not give me something extra but he did not clip my wings.
“I’m thankful to my father for not clipping my wings, for letting me fly and achieve my goals. For showing to the world that a girl is not supposed to be the slave. A girl has the power to go forward in her life.
“She’s not only a mother, she’s not only a sister, she’s not only a wife, but she should have an identity, she has equal rights and she should be recognised as a voice. Even though my brother thinks I’m treated very well and they’re not treated very well but that’s fine.”
Malala said she wanted to share how she found out she had won the peace prize as it was “quite exciting”.
“I was in my chemistry class and we studying about electrolysis,” she said. “The time was, I think, was 10.15.
“Before that I was not expecting to get this award. When it went to 10.15 I was totally sure I had not won it. But then suddenly one of my teachers came to the class and she called me and said ‘I have something important to tell you’. I was totally surprised when she told me, ‘congratulations, you have won the Nobel peace prize and you are sharing with a great person who also works for children’s rights’.
“It’s sometimes quite difficult to express your feelings but I felt really honoured.
“I felt more powerful and more courageous because this award is not just a piece of metal or a medal you wear or an award you keep in your room.
“This is encouragement for me to go forward and believe in myself and know there are people who are supporting me in this campaign. And we are standing together. We all want to make sure that every child gets quality education. This is really something great for me.
“When I found I had won the Nobel peace prize I decided I would not leave my school, rather I would finish my school time.
“I went to the physics lessons, I learned. I went to the English lesson. I considered it like a normal day.
“I was really happy with the response of my teachers and my fellow students. They were all saying they were proud of you. I’m really thankful to my school, to my teachers, to my student fellows for their love, for their support.
“Even though, it’s not going to help in exams because it totally depends on my hard work. But still, I’m really happy for them supporting me.
“I have received this award but this is not the end. This is not the end of the campaign I have started. I think this is really the beginning. I want to see every child going to school. There are still 57 million children who have not received education.”
Malala said she “did not wait for someone else” when she stood up for her rights against the Taliban in Swat Valley, Pakistan.
“I had really two options,” she said. “One was not to speak and wait to be killed. The second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one.
“At that time there was terrorism, women were not allowed to go outside of their houses, people were killed. At that time I need to raise my voice because I wanted to go back to school.
“I was also one of those girls who could not get education. I wanted to learn and be who I can be in my future.
“I also had dreams like a normal child has. I wanted to become a doctor at that time, now I want to become a politician, a good politician.”
Malala said she feared she would have to marry at the age of 13 or 14 and not be able to go to school.
“Through my story I want to tell woman I want to tell other children all around the world, they should stand up for their rights,” she said.
“They should not wait for someone else, their voices are more powerful.
“It would seem they are weak but at a time when no one speaks, your voice gets so loud and everyone has to listen to it. Everyone has to hear.
“This award is for all those children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard. I speak for them and I stand up with them. And I join them in their campaign, that their voices should be heard, and they have rights.”
Malala said she had a telephone call with fellow Nobel peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, 60, and they wanted to build “strong relationships” between India and Pakistan.
“I want both countries to have dialogue, to talk about peace … rather than fighting with each other,” she said.
She added that both winners would request the leaders of India and Pakistan attend the ceremony when they are presented with the peace prize.
“I really believe in peace, I really believe in tolerance and patience, and it is really important for the progress of both the countries that they have peace and they have good relationships,” she said.
“I used to say I think I do not deserve the Nobel peace prize. I still believe that. But I believe it is not only an award for what I’ve done but it is also an encouragement for giving me hope and give me courage to continue this campaign. To know I’m not alone, to know there are thousands and millions who are supporting me. Once again, thank you so much for supporting me.”