Philadelphia, PA (June 29, 2014) – The National Constitution Center announced today that 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai will receive the 2014 Liberty Medal for her continued demonstration of courage and resilience in the face of adversity and for serving as a powerful voice for those who have been denied their basic human rights and liberties. Ms. Yousafzai will receive the prestigious award during the 26th annual Liberty Medal ceremony on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 7 p.m. The ceremony will take place at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall in Historic Philadelphia and will be recorded for broadcast on WPVI-TV/6abc. A limited number of tickets will be made available for the general public on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. For more information about the Liberty Medal, visit constitutioncenter.org/libertymedal.
Ms. Yousafzai came to international attention at the age of eleven by writing for the BBC about life under the Taliban in her native Pakistan. Using the pen name Gul Makai, she often spoke about her family’s fight for girls’ education in her community. For her outspokenness, Yousafzai received the Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize in 2011 and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in the same year. In October 2012, Yousafzai was the target of an assassination plot by the Taliban and shot in the head as she was returning from school on a bus. She miraculously survived and undeterred by the continued threats to her life and the life of her family, continued to campaign for education. Following her attack, Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, launched the Malala Petition to demand the United Nations to recommit to Millennium Development Goal 2, which involves universal primary education for children around the world by the end of 2015. The petition, which received more than three million signatures, also helped Pakistan ratify the country’s first Right to Education bill.
“Malala’s courageous fight for equality and liberty from tyranny is evidence that a passionate, committed leader, regardless of age, has the power to ignite a movement for reform,” said National Constitution Center Chairman Governor Jeb Bush. “Her story is truly inspirational as we continue to fight for all children to have access to a quality education here in America. Let us all, young and old, strive to be like Malala—to challenge the status quo and to serve as catalysts for meaningful change.
“As American citizens we often take for granted our First Amendment rights, including free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to peacefully assemble and protest, without fear of retaliation,” said National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen. “Every day, around the world, individuals like Ms. Yousafzai are being threatened for asserting the same fundamental rights of speech and religious conscience that are inherent in all people. Yet she is undeterred in her quest. She is an inspiring voice for liberty across the globe.”
Ms. Yousafzai is the youngest person ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and was one of four runners-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2013. Addressing the United Nations on her 16th birthday, Yousafzai told the audience that “one child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” She was awarded the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize, which is given every five years and has previously been bestowed on such notable recipients as Nelson Mandela, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
She continues to champion universal access to education through the Malala Fund (malalafund.org), a nonprofit organization that empowers girls through education to achieve their potential and change their communities. Her memoir, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, is a New York Times bestseller. A young readers’ version, I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World, will be released in August 2014.
The Liberty Medal was established in 1988 to commemorate the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. Given annually, the medal honors men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe. Six recipients of the Medal subsequently have won the Nobel Peace Prize. For more information, visit constitutioncenter.org/libertymedal.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: A complete list of Liberty Medal winners follows.
Past Recipients of the Liberty Medal
|2013||Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State|
|2011 2010||Dr. Robert M. Gates, former U.S. Secretary ofDefenseTony Blair, former British Prime Minister|
|2008||Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet leader|
|2007||Bono and DATA|
|2006||George H.W. Bush and William J. Clinton, former U.S. Presidents|
|2005||ViktorYushchenko, President of Ukraine|
|2004||Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan|
|2003||Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court|
|2002||Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State|
|2001||KofiAnnan, United Nations Secretary-General*|
|2000||Dr. James Watson and Dr. Francis Crick, co-discoverers of the structure of DNA|
|1999||KimDae Jung, President of South Korea*|
|1998||Senator George J. Mitchell, Irish peace negotiator|
|1996||King Hussein I of Jordan andShimon Peres, former Prime Minister of Israel|
|1995||SadakoOgata, United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees|
|1994||Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic|
|1993||F.W. deKlerk, President of South Africa* and Nelson Mandela, President of the African National Congress*|
|1992||Thurgood Marshall, former Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court|
|1991||Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica andMédecins sansFrontières (Doctors Without Borders)*|
|1990||Jimmy Carter, former U.S. President*|
|1989||Lech Walesa, founder of Solidarity, Poland|
* Liberty Medal recipients who subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize