Upon receiving her Nobel Peace Prize earlier this week, Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai gave a speech for all the “forgotten children” who deserve peace and the right to an education.
In her speech, the 17-year-old Yousafzai spoke to world leaders, asking them to stop wars and to put their resources toward ending conflicts.
“This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change,” she said. “I am here to stand up for their rights to raise their voice.”
Malala is the youngest recipient of the prize. She received the award alongside Indian child rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi, when the Norwegian Nobel committee recognized her efforts and “heroic struggle” for girls’ rights to education. The winners, who will split the $1.1 million prize, were chosen for their work protecting children from slavery, extremism, and child labor, all while risking their own lives in the process.
Her speech received two standing ovations, one at the beginning and one at the end, in addition to several rounds of applause.
“Why is it that countries which we call strong are so powerful in creating wars but are so weak in bringing peace?” she asked. “Why is it that giving guns is so easy, but giving books is so hard? Why is it that making tanks is so easy, but building schools is so hard?”
In October 2012 Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while campaigning for girls’ education. Since then she has moved to Britain.
She brought several “sisters” with her to the ceremony, two of which were shot in the same incident.
Her speech brought insight into the conditions in Pakistan, discussing how over 400 schools were destroyed in her hometown in Pakistan’s Swat Valley when she was 10, causing the location to become a place where “dreams turned into nightmares.”
“Women were flogged, people were killed,” she explained. “Education went from being a right to being a crime.”
She continued by saying that while she is only one small person, her campaign is not one that can be so easily ignored. She stated that prize was not only for her, but for all the children of the world.
“I am those 66 million girls who are deprived of education and today I’m not raising my voice, it is the voice of those 66 million girls.”
Malala ended her speech by calling upon world leaders to make education their top priority, announcing that the prize money she receives will go into a Malala fund used to build schools in Pakistan. And she has no intentions of stopping there. “In this 21st century we must be able to give every child quality education.”