Sixteen-year-old Pakistani campaigner Malala Yousafzai has received the EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Campaigning for girls’ education rights in her native Pakistan, Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012.
She has continued her activism since undergoing life-saving surgery in the UK.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz called the teenage campaigner a “global icon” at the prize-giving ceremony held at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.
Accepting the prize, Yousufzai said she dedicated the “prestigious award to the unsung heroes of Pakistan and people all over the world who are fighting for basic human rights.”
“I am hopeful that through our unity and determination, we can achieve our goals and help the 57 million children who are waiting for us and these children they do not want an iPhone, an X-Box, a PlayStation or chocolates, they just want a book and a pen,” Yousufsai continued, in an acceptance speech that was met with a rapturous standing ovation by Members of the European Parliament.
The 50,000 euro Sakharov prize is considered Europe’s top human rights award.
Yousufzai was also nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. She had been a favourite to win, but it was awarded instead to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
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