Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Prize contender, says awards don’t matter as much as education


The Nobel Prize for Literature was just announced a few hours ago – Canadian short story author Alice Munro won! Big ups for Canada. The Nobel Peace Prize is always the last one to be announced, and we should get the announcement tomorrow. I hear Vladimir Putin made the short list. But everyone is really hoping that the Peace Prize goes to Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old advocate for education and women’s rights who was shot and nearly killed by the Taliban in 2012. Malala was brought to England where she received months of medical treatments for her gunshot wounds, and this week she’s been in NYC promoting her new book, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. I was so pleasantly surprised to see that Malala gave an interview to People Mag:

Oct. 9, 2012, was the end of another school day for Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai as she sat on her bus in her hometown of Mingora in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.

But within minutes, one Taliban gunman stopped the vehicle while another climbed aboard and shot her in the head. The reason: She was an outspoken advocate for girls’ education.

“My world has changed so much,” the 16-year-old, whose new memoir I Am Malala was published Tuesday, tells PEOPLE. “But I have not.”

Amid speculation that she may win the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded Friday, Malala continues her recovery, now living in Birmingham, England, with her father, Ziauddin, 44, himself an activist for education (and former school principal); her mother, a homemaker; and her two younger brothers, ages 13 and 8.

After her near-death experience, part of Malala’s skull was replaced by a titanium plate, and she has a cochlear implant in her left ear. Further necessary surgery on her jaw has been delayed until she turns 18.

She also continues to work with physical therapists and often thinks of the beautiful hometown she left behind, the place she calls “the most beautiful place in the world. … I don’t know when I will see it again, but I know I will.”

As for being the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Malala says that whether or not she is honored, she believes the focus of her life is to make sure every child has the opportunity for an education.

“[The awards] only remind me how much work still needs to be done,” she says.

[From People]

She’s such a special young woman. Not “special” in the way that we describe a kid who can sing or dance or entertain. It’s like Malala has the reincarnated soul of Mohandas Gandhi or something. Like, we’re all better people because Malala is still here, still speaking, still advocating.

Malala also appeared on The Daily Show two nights ago and right off the bat, Jon Stewart made her giggle. You forget how young she is and then she giggles like a girl. It’s so sweet. Jon was so smitten he asked if he could adopt her.

Oh, and the Taliban still wants to kill her. They released a statement to the press (for real) about how they still want to kill her. But, as Malala said in her Daily Show interview, if she was attacked by a Talib again, she would turn the other cheek. She said: “I used to think about that and I used to think that a Talib would come and just kill me, but then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him,” but then I said ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others cruelly and harshly. You must fight others, but through peace and through dialogue and through education.'”



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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120 Responses to “Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Prize contender, says awards don’t matter as much as education”

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  1. skyler10 says:

    Classy and wise young woman.

    • BW says:

      Wow! What a well spoken young lady. Puts our teenagers to shame.

      • Megan says:

        I don’t think that is fair to say. I mean I would imagine we have a lot of teenagers who stand up for what is right and fight for things to be better. The difference is our teenagers thank God don’t have to endure something quite like this.

        But just because we see the worst representation of our teens in Mily, Jenner girls and Bieber doesn’t mean they are all like that. At least I hope.

        Although this particular girl is at a different level that honestly I don’t think most adults reach.

      • Kim says:

        The US has wonderful teenagers doing great humanitarian work. Unfortunately we celebrate the ones who do nothing for human kind (Kartrashians, Lohans, etc).

    • Kim says:

      What a brave, wonderful girl! What a role model to all women and men. She is so deserving of a nobel prize. God Bless her.

    • Hokeypokey says:

      A living example of Good winning over Evil. What unbelievable spirit from a young soul…God bless her.

      • mabooski says:

        “You must not treat others cruelly and harshly. You must fight others, but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’”

        She is a lovely and smart girl but i feel that such is response is rooted in hope not reality. If people respect peace and dialogue there would be no conflicts in the first place. asking people to be kind and graceful in the face of such brutality is mean and asks even more of the victim than the oppressor.

  2. cr says:

    You have your Kartrashians, your Lohans, your Mileys, and then there’s Malala.

  3. Dragonlady sakura says:

    This young woman is someone to admire. Girls should be looking up to her instead of people like the Kardashians or Miley. I wish her the best.

  4. blue marie says:

    What a lovely, courageous young woman. Whether or not she wins the prize I am sure she will do great things.

  5. CaribbeanLaura says:

    Wow, this article made me tear up a bit, it may be partially due to PMS hormones, but it is so gratifying to see a young woman with such bravery and class and brains. I take one of her over a million of all those mega rich mega spoiled celeb brats anyday.

    • Amelia says:

      I read her interview in the Guardian on the tube a few days ago – who knew there was so much pollen on the underground? *sniff*

  6. BeckyR says:

    I admire her greatly. God bless her always.

  7. NorthernGirl_20 says:

    She is an amazing person, I really hope that she wins the Peace Prize. Malala is the kind of person I want my boys to look up to ..

  8. Evelyn says:

    This honestly brought me to tears. What an incredible young woman, the world is a better place for having her in it

  9. LucyS says:

    I watched her extended interview on the Daily Show and it’s not often you find Jon Stewart speechless in a good way. She was truly, incredibly eloquent and well spoken. She is unbelievably poised. I could barely string a coherent sentence together at 16.

    She’s an inspiration and I sincerely hope she’s able to get back to Pakistan someday and see it without fear for her safety.

  10. Mia4S says:

    Wow I almost hate that this article is here, given the other stories on the page (so much trash!). Her story should be passed on to every young woman in your life. A bit of entertainment and escape is fine, but here is someone worthy of focus, time, and defense.

    “Celebrities” in sports and Hollywood need to know (or learn) their place.

  11. Sam says:

    She’s awesome. I also try to remember that her parents deserve a ton of credit. She was raised by parents who run a school that educates girls, and who have put themselves at great personal risk too.

    I believe that girls in school need to be educated about women’s history more often. So many young girls I know have no concept of women’s rights and how far they still have to go (especially outside the US). I also think Malala is a strong reminder to women in the US that while we still have a ways to go too, we can count some blessings that other in other nations do not have, and we shouldn’t forget about those women and girls either.

    • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

      That reminds me of my history teaching getting mad (more annoyed) that the majority of the people in our class couldn’t tell her (on the test!!!) what was the year/date of when women could vote—keep in mind that we have to memorize very few dates, and she tells us which ones we have to do.

      • Malificent says:

        No kidding. My grandmother was 28 years old in 1920. I can’t imagine being an adult and not being trusted with a place in the democratic process. And that was only two generations ago! And how many women in the world still don’t have suffrage?

      • Sam says:

        Malificent: It depends. Legally, there are only a handful of countries where women are banned from voting. The largest is Saudi Arabia (they will be able to run for office beginning 2015, but still will not be able to vote). Some countries have limited voting rights for women and Vatican City excludes them by default. Here is a site that breaks it down:

        This doesn’t include countries where women legally can vote but are discouraged or prevented from doing so because of social or cultural norms.

    • flan says:

      very good point.

      Women have accomplished a lot more in history than they have been given credit for. Only very recently have historians started looking beyond the few famous ones like Elizabeth I, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra etc.

      There are lots more (and not just in Europe/US, but Asia, Africa etc), who have wielded more power and done lots of important stuff we have never heard about.

      Also, there are quite a few countries now that do better than the US in this regard.

    • OriginallyBlue says:

      I completely agree. I have a girl in one of my courses who is about 20-21 and during our second class, she said she didn’t care about feminism; “equal pay and all that other shit” didn’t matter to her. You don’t have to identify as a feminist but to act like women are not still struggling for equality and the struggle that women went through for us to get this far is mind boggling.
      I asked her if she realized that without feminists, she would not have been sitting in that classroom, with her piercings and tattoos. Instead of her dad and brother encouraging her education they would be trying to find her a suitable husband before she became too old. She looked like she wanted to slap me, but I had to say it.

      • Sam says:

        The opposite can be true too! I once worked with a woman who was a professed “feminist” who would go on about how she felt like the US was the worst place ever to be a woman! I can agree that we have a ways to go, but I pointed out to her that there are places in the world where women can be forced to marry their rapists, husbands are granted the right by law to beat their wives, girls can be shot for demanding an education, etc. Malala’s story can also teach women elsewhere that while we might not have it all, we have much more than some others, and we need to care about them too.

      • flan says:

        Good job calling her out, OriginallyBlue.

        Piercings and tattoos are no longer an indication of counter culture. They have been appropriated by lazy brats like that. Which one of those girls eager to learn got opportunities like that.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Your comment made me think of this story:

      A photographer wanted to celebrate her daughter’s birhtday, and “instead of dressing Emma up as a Disney princess – which is ‘an unrealistic fantasy for most girls’ – she decided to take photos of her emulating real women worth admiring.”

      I think this series of photos could go on and on! I like the idea of engaging young girls with tales of REAL amazing women.

  12. Feebee says:

    I’m going to buy her book and read it with my 9 and 12 years old girls. This girl is truly amazing and her story nothing short of incredible. Her continued grace is beautiful. And I am scared for her. I can’t imagine how proud but worried her parents must feel.

  13. Lucy says:

    Nothing to say other than: Go Malala!!!

  14. Mon says:

    She makes so much sense which is even more impressive considering her age. Whole governments can learn from her. Hope she is and stays safe.

  15. littlestar says:

    This little girl gives me the chills and gives me hope that one day all women around the world will have access to education. I truly hope she wins the award tomorrow.

  16. Sixer says:

    Because she was treated here, she has got a great deal of attention in the UK media. She warms my heart every time she appears.

  17. Dawn says:

    I read an interview where she talked about how mad it made her to see British youth not appreciate the education they get for free. My first thought was come to the States and you will really get mad. This girl has lived a deadly struggle for an education where all aspects of our population here throw it away as if is nothing. Most people don’t even realize that in Mexico education is free to only the sixth grade. From that time on people have to pay. I hope that someday she can work with more women who are held hostage by archaic religious beliefs and men who will do anything to retain their perceived power in their own little world. Good luck to her and may more find her courage to fight the good fight.

  18. Anonny says:

    I have nothing to add. I just want to increase page views and comments for someone who truly deserves it.

  19. d says:

    Oh, the bravery of this young woman. I have something in my eyes…
    If there ever was an indication of just how backward the Taliban are, their actions would be it.

  20. Maggie says:

    I watched her on the news last night. She is an incredible young woman and I agree with the other poster who said young girls should look up to this girl versus someone like Miley.

  21. Virgilia Coriolanus says:

    She certainly is very, very brave and I hope she wins. She’ll use the money and fame for something good–I hope she goes into politics.

    Adding on to what another poster said, I can’t believe how it is in America. That we take most everything for granted, even our education–if I was her I don’t know how I’d react.

    I don’t even know if I could do the things that she has already done, and I’ m a few years older than she is.

    She is an inspiration to us all.

  22. some bitch says:

    LOVE her. She’s such an articulate young woman and I so admire her. I

  23. Marianne says:

    She should meet with Jaden Smith and teach him the importance of education.

  24. grabbyhands says:

    What an amazing young woman.

    This is one of the things that continually angers me about this country-how we devalue education and in fact make it appear suspect. Here is this girl who literally took a bullet for the want of education and is prepared to do so again;a story that is played out so often in other countries, especially for girls, and in the US we champion ignorance because education is for the “elites” who just want to take advantage of you.

  25. Kim1 says:

    She is wise beyond her years but she is still a typical teenager. In her book she says Angelina Jolie is her favorite actress,Ugly Betty is her favorite TV show and one day she wants to go to NYC and work for a fashion magazine like the character in the show.She is reading the Wizard of Oz which was sent to her by former British PM Gordon Brown.

  26. Janet says:

    You’re right she is very special. Thanks for writing about her.

  27. kiddo says:

    Now this is a role model for your daughters. She risked her life for principle.

  28. dahlianoir says:

    This. THIS is empowering, not some stupid haircut.

  29. Bina says:

    My countrywoman! We are so proud of her and really hope she gets the Nobel tomorrow. I bought her book yesterday and I’m already hooked. I also went to an awards ceremony back in the spring that honored her two friends who were shot with her, Shazia and Kainat. Incredible young women, all of them!

    • bob says:

      Even if she doesn’t win she’s had the main library in Birmingham named in her honour. Wonderful child.

  30. Tania says:

    Saw her on Jon Stewart and I started sobbing and reading this, I’m sobbing again. This girl is such a role model. Keeping children from being educated is heinous.

  31. Hypocrisy says:

    What a beautiful soul in this young lady !

    Bless her !

  32. Megan says:

    she is a truly inspiring and brave young girl. Truly impressive. People like her give you hope for the world.

  33. Sachi says:

    She is a remarkable person. So brave and selfless and resilient.

    I wish her all the best.

  34. The Original Mia says:

    I am in awe of this young lady. She’s inspirational.

  35. Lisa says:

    Wow. That’s it. Wow.

  36. Cazzee says:

    I hope she wins tomorrow!

  37. Meg says:

    What a beautiful person! I want to print her picture and hang it on the wall for my little ones to see everyday to remind them how fortunate we are to have access to education and how lucky the world is to have such peaceful forces for positivity. So much wisdom at such a young age.

  38. inthekitchen says:

    She is my hero. She is so incredibly awesome.

  39. Biggles says:

    I was just thinking the other day about if I had to name an idol, who would it be..

    Guess Ive got a strong contender in this young lady here.

    She is really a true inspiration, so brave and so thoughtful as well. I only watched a snippet of her interview with Jon Stewart but she was so wise and honest, despite her (even there evident) young age. And I completely agree with her on education, Ive just finished my education (graduated from uni) and while Ive done well, I still look back and regret that I didnt appreciate it and try harder when I could have. More people need to realise just how special education is, and why it is right that people like the lovely Malala will fight for their right to learn.

  40. lenje says:

    This young girl can teach a lot of adults, myself included, about compassion and determination. Along with others, I also wish that she will be the one awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, although I don’t know other candidates, since the organization never announce them.

    A little note here: I work in the UN system. I met a girl from my home country, who came to NY to speak in a conference on child brides. I was amazed that at such a young age (she’s 13 or 14) she’s become an active advocate for higher education for girls and to end the tradition of young marriages. It is also heartening to hear that the strong support from her parents, who came from a very modest background and didn’t finish their grade school.

    While she does not face the danger like Malala did, the education challenge is the same. Young girls (and adults alike) in villages don’t enjoy the same opportunities with the boys, although most often than not they outperform them in schools. I should know, because in my final years in uni I had to do social works in a remote village for a few months (it’s mandatory in public universities in my country and credited). I met a few teachers who even paid for the education of their bright students with their own money.

    In my view, a Nobel Prize for Malala will highlight this cause, and is a recognition to all people who have worked and contributed — despite not being in the spotlight — in the efforts to provide education for all, particularly in the developing and underdeveloped countries, as well as promoting gender equality.

  41. Jedi says:

    I think she is incredibly brave. It also makes me think of her home in Swat Valley, and the children and teachers who are still there and who are still facing threats for continuing to offer girls an education. Its such a tragedy that people have to live in such fear, but yet so incredibly inspiring that they feel their daughters educations are worth that risk.

  42. Jane says:

    What a brave and wise young girl. I hope the the Nobel committee has the guts to give the prize to her.

  43. nicegirl says:

    GO Malala! We love you and your quest to educate the children of the world!

  44. Louisa says:

    I told my 8 year old son about her the other night when he was complaining about his homework and wishing he didn’t have school every day. I hope just a little of what she stands for and what she has gone through got to him.
    She is a beautiful soul, and I hope for a long, healthy and happy life for her.

  45. Suckmyfarts says:

    What a beautiful person! I hope she remains safe!
    I plan on purchasing her book! It will help me appreciate my busy life with work full time & college. it’s not free but at least I have the opportunity.
    This is what the world needs! People like her! Bless her wisdom & kind soul!
    They should make kids read this book in schools. Educate them on how lucky they are. Even though some public schools aren’t always the best, it’s still an opportunity we are given. We can’t help that we don’t know any different.

  46. bettyrose says:

    Really puts things in perspective. I realize there is no logic here, but Islam doesn’t oppose education for women. Any economist on earth will tell you that educating girls is necessary for an economically productive society. What is the end game for the Taliban? Poverty and misery for all??

    • Bina says:

      Pretty much.

    • Evelyn says:

      They want to reestablish a calliphate, which hasn’t existed in the Muslim world for roughly 700 years. This means no education for women, because they wouldn’t need it, being completely subservient to men. It actually would mean a lot of horrible things for countries they would theoretically establish themselves in, however most Muslims are moderate, and oppose such a fanatical position

      • Sally says:

        Islam does not oppose education for women. Many of the greatest scholars at the time of Muhummad and in the 3 caliphates after him, were women. Islam encourages people over and over in the Quran to “seek knowledge.” The Taliban have nothing to do with Islam; Malala herself explained that they want to restrict education so as to make themselves powerful, not because of religion at all.

      • tifzlan says:

        Islam does not oppose education, especially for women. In fact, seeking knowledge is an extremely noble act in the eyes of Allah and it is the responsibility of every Muslim to seek as much knowledge as he/she can, even if that means leaving home and traveling to other places to do so. The Prophet’s wives were all highly knowledgeable women who were considered scholars of their time, and even the Prophet’s closest friends and allies would sometimes turn to them for help.

      • Evelyn says:

        I didn’t mean Islam opposed education, only the taliban, I should have worded it better. I was referring specifically to the 8th century caliphate, which is their goal to reestablish, and they use religious as a means of trying to bring others to their side. Please don’t think I’m trying to be ignorant!

      • Sally says:

        @evelyn, the 8th century caliphate was Abyssinian, and was the Golden Age of Islam, during which algebra, astronomy, mathematics, and poetry were at their height. It was a period in which knowledge of all kinds flourished. All men and women studied and taught. Again, it has nothing to do with the Taliban.

      • Sally says:

        Don’t worry, Evelyn. A lot of stuff out there is actually published by conservatives with a political agenda, as in Cheny businessmen behind a lot of false info (we can guess what for). Check where sources are actually coming from, and try to stick with primary historical sources as much as possible.

    • bettyrose says:

      This amazing memoir helped me understand the role of women in Islam and identify extremist political groups whose values have no basis in the Koran:

      • Evelyn says:

        Forgive me sally, I’m getting most of my information from an article by haviland smith published by the Middle East institute. I’ve been learning about this in college as background for a paper (I swear my teacher assigned it) I’m really embarrassed, please don’t think I’m an idiot, I really didn’t think I was being so dumb. I’m going to crawl under a rock now

  47. dj says:

    What an amazing woman! I read her story in Parade mag and cried. She inspired me someone in their 50’s. This is an important woman.

  48. Shannon1972 says:

    What a beautiful soul…so young but wise beyond her years. Her story is incredibly inspiring and I cannot begin to comprehend the enormity of what she has been through.
    I can’t explain it – I personally don’t know her, but I feel proud of her. Maybe knowing there are young women out there like her, all over the world, makes me feel proud of what a woman can do and the strength she can wield. I’m with Jon Stewart…just in awe.

  49. I Choose Me says:

    Oh man I have tears. I don’t even know how to express my admiration for this young woman. She is such a special person and I hope she continues to get her message out there.

  50. Lauren says:

    How could Putin, who instituted such severe anti-gay laws, even be considered for a second to get the Peace Prize over this amazing young woman?

  51. tifzlan says:

    I love Malala and the Yousafzai family. I am a Muslim, and these people are what every Muslim should aspire to be. The correct balance between worldly desires and pursuit of the afterlife. Also, as a Muslim feminist, i could not agree more with everything she is saying on the Jon Stewart show.

  52. minime says:

    She is exceptional! Such a bright young girl that makes us believe in humanity again. I wish her the greatest for her future and I personally don’t see any other worthier person to receive the Nobel prize. I will buy her book and maybe also have it as a Christmas gift for some of my relatives.

  53. lucy2 says:

    There are some people who are just meant to do great things with their lives, and make an impact on the world. Clearly she’s one of them.

  54. Maria says:

    I hope that she will inspire thousands of people across the world to appreciate the education they receive and if they do not already have education to look for it where they can.
    She is a wonderful girl and I wish her success in bringing education to those who want and need it!

  55. Miffy says:

    Her strength and compassion are astounding. I have nothing to add other than she makes me regret not appreciating fully every opportunity I’ve had, she’s inspirtational beyond comprehension.

  56. Kelly says:

    She’s great! I want to read her book.

  57. TheyPromisedMeBeer says:

    I hope she wins the prize, not only because she deserves it, but because it would also be the complete opposite result that the Taliban was aiming for when they shot her.

  58. Jennifer12 says:

    My daughter’s two best friends are Pakistani and what their families escaped from is beyond belief. This young woman is a great example of people who are denied an education and don’t take it for granted, like so many kids I know. The fact that her post is next to Miley Cyrus, a disgusting, spoiled, entitled brat who goes on and on about what she has suffered, is titanic irony. The fact that feminists are defending Miley’s right to prostitute herself and call it feminism when you have Malala, a true feminist icon, is plain disturbing.

  59. L says:

    Wow! Just. Wow! I am in awe of this amazing young lady!

  60. Christne says:

    Simply amazing.

  61. MsJAPrufrock says:

    She is such a powerful speaker. She was born to do this. She might win tomorrow.

  62. tracy vaiuso says:


  63. Mew says:

    She’s a muslim. Is she a terrorist? So sick of this idea that all muslims are fanatic terrorists who just want to destroy everything. She has more heart and head than all young female Hollywood put together (with maybe few exceptions).

    She’s a real role model.

  64. miapatagonia says:

    Just announced: Noble Peace Prize was awarded to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

    In a way I’m relieved she didn’t win this year. I’m confident she’ll win in the near future. In the meantime her studies, advocacy, fortitude and passion continues. She has the world listening already. God bless you, Malala.

  65. lambchops says:

    what a contrast, a post about Miley Cyrus followed by a post about a truly brave, courageous girl fighting for the right to education.