Malala Yousafzai, the sixteen-year-old Pakistani girl who survived a gunshot to the head by members of the Taliban for speaking out on women's right to education, was awarded a prestigious international human rights award—the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought—on Thursday.
Placed in the global media spotlight, she is calling for access to education for girls, and peaceful, nonviolent solutions to global problems.
"Some 250 million young girls around the world cannot freely go to school," said Martin Schulz, president of the European parliament, while announcing the award in Brussels Thursday. "Malala's example reminds us of our duty and responsibility to the right to education for children. This is the best investment for the future."
When asked by Jon Stewart on the The Daily Show how she would react if she found herself face-to-face with another Taliban attacker, she moved the audience with her pacifist reply. “If you hit a Talib, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib,” said Yousafzai. “You must not treat others with cruelty…You must fight others through peace and through dialogue and through education.”
“I would tell him how important education is and that I would even want education for your children as well. That’s what I want to tell you,” she envisioned saying, “now do what you want.”
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Yousafzai has also called on the U.S. and U.K. governments to end military attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue," she told the BBC. "That's not an issue for me, that's the job of the government... and that's also the job of America."
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden was also shortlisted for the award.
Both are in the running for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced Friday.