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Freedom House Congratulates Malala Yousafzai on Winning Sakharov Prize
Freedom House congratulates 16-year old activist Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan on receiving the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, a prestigious human rights award bestowed by the European Parliament to honor exceptional individuals and organizations that combat intolerance, fanaticism, and oppression. Past winners include notable figures such as Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan.
Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck on October 9, 2012 by the Taliban in an effort to permanently silence her activism on women’s rights and education. Yousafzai became a Taliban target for assassination after she was profiled in a New York Times documentary and wrote pieces for leading newspapers that explained the difficulties and inequalities for women living under Islamist rule, and promoted Pakistani girls’ right to education. Following her recovery, Yousafzai has continued advocating for increased and improved rights for women, becoming a global symbol for resistance to repression. Because of Yousafzai’s efforts, women and girls’ access to education in Pakistan has improved, and the Pakistani National Assembly ratified the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Bill, which guarantees free education for all children between the ages of five and 16.
One year after her brutal attack, Freedom House both commends and congratulates Malala Yousafzai for her continued courage and dedication to the advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms.