STRASBOURG: Malala Yousafzai was handed the EU’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize on Wednesday in recognition of her crusade for the right of all children, girls and boys, to an education.
To a thunderous applause announcing the European Parliament prize, the assembly’s president Martin Schulz praised Malala as “a survivor, a heroine and an extraordinary young woman” and said: “You have given hope to millions of people.”
Malala who was accompanied by her father Ziauddin, became the 25th winner of the Sakharov prize at the ceremony significantly held on World Children’s Day, with 21 of the former winners present.
Past winners of the 50,000 euro prize include South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. Accepting the award, Malala spoke out for the 57 million children in the world deprived of education, emphasising the lack of schooling for girls, often because of forced marriages, trafficking, poverty and sexual violence.
“Children don’t want an iPhone, an Xbox or chocolates,” she said as lawmakers rose to their feet, “They just want a book and a pen.”