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Paying tribute: Malala to receive Liberty Medal in USA

By: Rana Tanveer

PHILADELPHIA: The youngest-ever Nobel laureate, Malala Yousafzai, will receive the 2014 Liberty Medal for her ‘continued demonstration of courage for education’ on October 21 at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall, Philadelphia.

The award is presented annually since 1988 to recognise leadership in pursuit of freedom. Malala will receive her medal, and the accompanying $100,000 cash award, at the 26th annual Liberty Medal ceremony. She is also the youngest recipient of Liberty Medal.

Malala has received several other awards, including Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize in 2011 and the UN Human Rights Prize in 2013.

An official of the administration of the Liberty Medal, Bianca Cavacini, told The Express Tribune that tickets to the event were opened to the public on September 22 and sold out within nine minutes. While those tickets were free, the organisers have some tickets – priced at $1,000 each – still remaining.

The medal was announced for Malala in July. “It is an honour to be awarded the Liberty Medal,” Malala said. “I accept this award on behalf of all the children around the world who are struggling to get an education.”

Helen Gym, a founder of Philadelphia’s Parents United for Public Education, said she is glad the National Constitution Center is highlighting the importance of education by choosing Malala as the recipient of the award. “There’s tremendous power in her story and a reminder as well that the struggle for young people to access a just education happens in our city as well as overseas,” Gym said. “It couldn’t come at a more important time in our city or nationwide.”

The Constitution Center’s board of trustees unanimously voted to give the Liberty Medal to Malala, the center’s spokeswoman said. The medal was first administered by the National Constitution Center in 2006, when Presidents George HW Bush and Bill Clinton were honoured for their bipartisan humanitarian efforts on behalf of the victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia and the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

Other past Liberty Medal recipients include Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Shimon Peres, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Bono. Six recipients of the medal have subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Boxer Muhammad Ali was also awarded this medal.

Express Tribune