Malala Yousafzai named UN Messenger of Peace

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Secretary-General António Guterres designates children's rights activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai as a UN Messenger of Peace. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe 

Malala Yousafzai is a "hero and a symbol of education" UN Secretary-General said during Monday's designation ceremony to appoint her UN Messenger of Peace.

António Guterres said he tapped her for the position because of her "unwavering commitment to the rights of women, girls and all people – even in the face of grave danger."

At 15, the young Pakistani activist and blogger survived an assassination attempt carried out by the outlawed Taliban terrorist group in 2012.

Jocelyne Sambira has the story.

"Today, I am proud to designate you youngest-ever United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on girl's education. And this is the official designation." 


A burst of applause followed UN Secretary-General's address as he named Malala Yousafzai a UN Messenger of Peace. 

António Guterres said it was an emotional day for him, as he praised Ms Yousafzai for her simplicity and courage to bring education to people in the most difficult places, particularly in refugee camps. 

"It is an enormous pleasure to have you as our Messenger for Peace. You are not only a hero but you are very committed and generous person. And a person who that has this fantastic quality: a Noble prize recognized everywhere and you keep the same simplicity, the same open way to deal with all of us." 

Malala Yousafzai became an international symbol for the fight for girls' education after surviving a gunshot wound to the head while riding the bus to school on 9 October 2012. 

She was widely known for speaking out against the forced closure of girls' schools by the Taliban and had received the Pakistani Government's highest civilian award in 2011. 

After surviving the attack, she and her father co-founded the Malala Fund in 2013 to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls' education and to empower girls to demand change. 

During the designation ceremony, Ms Yousafzai recalled the first time she delivered a speech at UN headquarters. 

"I am really honoured to be the Messenger of Peace and I stood here on the stage almost three-and-a-half years ago and it was my 16th birthday and it was my first appearance after the attack. And I stood here and gave my speech and I told the world that education is a basic human right of every girl and that no child should be denied this right. And I stand here today and say the same thing." 

She is the first Messenger of Peace designated by Secretary-General Guterres, who took office in January. 

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations. 

Duration: 2'18"

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