Malala Yousafzai receives Tipperary peace prize

Wednesday 21 August 2013 10.49
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Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai has been hailed as an inspiration
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai has been hailed as an inspiration
Malala was left fighting for her life after she was attacked by Taliban gunmen last October
Malala was left fighting for her life after she was attacked by Taliban gunmen last October
Malala appealed to governments to change their laws that discriminate against women and children
Malala appealed to governments to change their laws that discriminate against women and children

A teenager shot in the head by the Taliban has been awarded a peace prize in Tipperary for her courage and determination.

Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai became the latest recipient of the Tipperary International Peace Award.

The 16-year-old education activist was attacked by Taliban gunmen last October after she campaigned for girls to go to school without fear.

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

Speaking to a crowd of over 200 people at the Ballykisteen Hotel in Tipperary, Malala appealed to governments all over the world to change their laws that discriminate against women and children.

She said she would like to return to the Swat Valley in her native country and would continue her work to ensure that children and young girls all over the world should be given proper education.

In a 20-minute address, Malala said she did not want to be remembered as the young girl who was shot by the Taliban, but instead as the person who had fought for rights of girls' education.

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

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."

Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello said: "I applaud her singular bravery and I am delighted her efforts to champion human rights in the face of intimidation and adversity have been honoured this evening."

Since the age of 11, Malala had been secretly writing a blog for the BBC, 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, from the town of Mingora in the Swat district of Pakistan, was hit just above her left eye by a bullet that grazed the edge of her brain.

She was 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 Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in hospital.

The teenager 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.

The Tipperary Peace Prize was established in the early 1980s for an individual who has made a special contribution to the cause of peace.

Others short-listed in 2012 included US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, president of the Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi, former Kenyan journalist John Githongo and Pax Christi International, a non-profit Catholic peace movement.

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.

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