Pakistan’s teenage Nobel Prize winner and children and girl’s rights activist, Malala Yousafzai on Monday was named the youngest ever United Nations Messenger of Peace, with a special focus on girls' education. “[You are a] symbol of perhaps the most important thing in the world, education for all,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on April 10 at a ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York. "It is an enormous pleasure to have you as our Messenger of Peace," he said, praising her "courageous defense of the rights of all people, including women and girls, to education and equality" and her "unwavering commitment to peace."
Yousafzai, who was shot in 2012 by the Taliban for attending classes, is the youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace and the first one to be designated by Secretary-General Guterres since he assumed office in January this year. Accepting the accolade, the 19-year old underscored the importance of education, especially education of girls, for advancing communities and societies. “[Bringing change] starts with us and it should start now,” she said, adding: “If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now [and] not wait for anyone else.”
UN Messengers of Peace are distinguished individuals, carefully selected from the fields of art, literature, science, entertainment, sports or other fields of public life, who have agreed to help focus worldwide attention on the work of the UN. Backed by the highest honour bestowed by the Secretary-General on a global citizen, these prominent personalities volunteer their time, talent and passion to raise awareness of UN’s efforts to improve the lives of billions of people everywhere.
Calling herself a proud Muslim, Malala stressed that Islam means peace, and expressed great disappointment that the media refers every day to ``Islamic terrorists and Islamic jihadists'' fighting in the name of Islam. ``And then people blame the whole Islam,'' she said. ``People should look at me and the Muslims who are living in peace and believe in peace rather than looking at the few terrorists,'' Malala said. She said that Muslims also need to unite and stand strongly against the extremists and terrorists and say that they are not us. We don't believe in anything that they're doing,'' she added.
Malala now lives in Britain, where she received medical treatment after she was shot. After finishing her secondary school in June, she plans to study philosophy, politics and economics at university.