Malala receives Irish peace award

Malala receives Irish peace award

A teenager shot in the head by the Taliban has been honoured in Ireland for her courage and determination.

Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai has become the latest recipient of the Tipperary International Peace Award on Tuesday.

The 16-year-old education activist was attacked by Taliban gunmen last October after she campaigned for girls to go to school without fear in a part of the country where fundamentalists had once imposed strict Sharia law.

The Tipperary Peace Convention recognised the teenager's courage, determination and perseverance, along with the impact she has had on so many people across the world.

Peace Convention secretary Martin Quinn said he was delighted that Malala had agreed to accept the award in person in Co Tipperary.

"We are really looking forward to receiving her and presenting her with this well-deserved accolade," he said.

"Malala now joins the illustrious list of past recipients of the peace prize, which includes former prime minister of Pakistan, the late Benazir Bhutto."

Since the age of 11, Malala had been secretly writing a blog for a media outlet which described the struggles faced by girls trying to receive an education under the Taliban.

When her identity was uncovered, a Taliban militia boarded her school bus and shot her at point blank range in the head. Malala was hit just above her left eye by a bullet which grazed the edge of her brain.

She was eventually airlifted to Britain and treated at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where she had a titanium plate and cochlear implant fitted.

She was visited by the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, in hospital.

The teenager, from the town of Mingora in the Swat district of Pakistan, has remained in the UK where she returned to school in March and continues to campaign for every child's right to education, including joining a campaign led by Plan Ireland.

Mike Mansfield, of Plan Ireland, said Malala's story has struck a chord across the world.

"This young campaigner has become an inspiration to millions," he said. "This is an extraordinary, brave young women who, when faced with death, refused to give up and refused to be silent.

"However, we must not forget there are millions of 'other Malalas' across the world; a whole generation of girls and boys who are excluded daily from learning by violence, discrimination or harmful traditional practices.

"Plan is working with these 'other Malalas', the one in five girls globally who are denied an education or the one in three girls every second who is forced to enter a child marriage."

Malala, who has been called the world's most influential teenager, is a nominee for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The Tipperary accolade was established in the early 1980s for an individual who has made a special contribution to the cause of peace is selected and honoured.

Previous recipients include former South African president Nelson Mandela, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and ex-US president Bill Clinton.

Last year's recipients were former president of Ireland Professor Mary McAleese and her husband Senator Martin McAleese.


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