By Johanne Adam
Malala Yousafzai, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize and an icon in the fight for girls' education, was honoured by the University of Ottawa during a rare visit to Canada.
This young woman, who is only 19, is known for her international efforts to promote social justice and her fight to ensure that all children in the developing world, especially girls, have an opportunity to attend school.
Her goals reflect the fundamental values of the University of Ottawa, since they lead to economic, social and political self-sufficiency, as well as democracy. University of Ottawa President and Vice-Chancellor Jacques Frémont highlighted the young Pakistani woman’s ongoing commitment and thanked her for “giving a voice to all those women and girls who aspire to a better future.” During a private meeting, President Frémont conferred honorary doctorates on both Malala and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.
Marcel Mérette, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, also attended the meeting. He described Malala’s efforts around the world as inspirational and invited the young Nobel laureate to return to Ottawa to share her experiences with University of Ottawa students.
Malala Yousafzai has been advocating for children’s rights since she was 10 years old. In 2009, on an Urdu blog hosted by the BBC, she described her daily life as a Pakistani girl persecuted by the Taliban. She denounced the violence, murders and arson taking place in schools for girls, along with her oppressors’ unequivocal opposition to education for girls.
In 2012, Malala was returning home from school when the Taliban boarded her school bus and tried to murder her. She was seriously injured and was sent to a hospital in Birmingham, U.K., to undergo multiple surgeries. News of the assassination attempt spread word of the young woman’s courage internationally. Today, Malala is pursuing her education in the United Kingdom.
Malala, whose first name means “afflicted with pain”, has become a symbol of the fight for social justice. Her dream of becoming a doctor has evolved into a determination to become a political leader and activist.