After writing a best-selling memoir, winning numerous awards, surviving an assassination attempt and becoming a global voice for educational empowerment, Malala Yousafzai has already accomplished more at the age of 16 than most people will in an entire lifetime. In October, she’ll add yet another amazing achievement to her list, when she becomes the youngest person ever to receive the Liberty Medal.
The National Constitution Center announced on Sunday that the Pakistani teen will be honored during the 26th annual Liberty Medal ceremony in Philadelphia.
The Liberty Medal is awarded to men and women who “strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.” Past recipients include Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
“It's an honor to be awarded the Liberty Medal,” Yousafzai said. “I accept this award on behalf of all the children around the world who are struggling to get an education.”
Yousafzai first gained fame at the age of 11 after writing for the BBC about life under the Taliban in her native Pakistan. Through her writings, she described her family’s struggle to gain education for young girls in her community.
Yousafzai’s outspokenness gained her plenty of supporters around the world as well as enemies. In October of 2012, she was shot in the head while returning from school on a bus in an assassination attempt by the Taliban.
Yousafzai survived the shooting and continued her educational advocacy. After the attack, Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, launched the Malala Petition which demanded that the UN recommit to Millennium Development Goal 2, which involves universal primary education for children around the world by the end of 2015.
The petition received more than three million signatures and helped Pakistan ratify the country’s 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.”
In addition to the Liberty Medal, Yousafzai was also the recipient of the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize as well as Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize. Her memoir, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, made the New York Times bestseller list. She also continues to fight for universal access to education through the Malala Fund, a nonprofit organization that empowers girls through education.
The Liberty Medal ceremony is set to take place on October 21, at 7 p.m. Tickets will be made available for the general public on September 23. Visit the Liberty Medal website for more information.