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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Student shot by Taliban wins peace prize

Above: Malala Yousafzai recovering at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, after specialist treatment, right. Barry Duggan

Published 02/01/2013 | 05:00

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A TEENAGE Pakistani student who survived an assassination attack by Taliban gunmen has been named as the recipient of a prestigious Irish peace prize.

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The Tipperary Peace Convention has awarded Malala Yousafzai (15) their 2012 International Peace Prize.

Malala came to prominence for her role in education and women's rights activism in the Swat Valley area of Pakistan where the Taliban had banned girls from attending school.

On October 9 last year, while returning home on a school bus, she was singled out by gunmen and shot in the head and neck.

She miraculously survived and was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for specialist treatment.

Medics at the hospital say Malala is making good progress and a hospital spokeswoman said it is expected her cranial reconstruction surgery would begin at the end of this month. In a statement, the Tipperary Peace Convention said it hopes that awarding the peace prize to Malala "will encourage those in power to continue to speak out in support of her vision of equal access for every child in school, so that each and every one of them can reach their full potential. Malala's courage has proved to be an inspiration around the globe."

"The right to education is denied to 61 million children of primary school age around the world and the hopes of these children are represented by the courage, determination and by the voice of Malala Yousafzai," the statement added.

"The Taliban tried and failed to silence her and have instead amplified her voice. Though only a child herself, she has now become perhaps the world's most admired children's rights advocate."

Martin Quinn of the Tipperary Peace Convention said it is hoped that Malala will be able to travel to Ireland later this year to personally receive her award when she has sufficiently recovered from her injuries.

Mr Quinn said a ceremony in honour of the teenager would be held in Tipperary when it is most convenient for her.

Previous recipients of the award include former South African president Nelson Mandela, Live Aid organiser Bob Geldof and former US President Bill Clinton.

Irish Independent

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