Pakistani women’s education activist Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, becoming the youngest recipient of a Nobel in history. The committee also awarded the honor to Indian children’s education activist Kailash Satyarth. Malala became a household name in 2012 when Taliban gunmen attempted to assassinate her at age 15.
In her first statement, Malala stressed that the joint award should be an opportunity to bring Pakistan and India together to “focus more on education, to focus more on progress.” This past week, the two countries have exchanged fire in the most violent period since their 2003 ceasefire. Malala said the fact that she is Muslim and Pakistani, and Satyarth is Hindu and Indian, “gives people a message of love.” She also revealed that she and Satyarth will each request their prime minister attend the Nobel ceremony with them.
In addition to promoting peace between India and Pakistan, Malala used the speech to encourage other children to become advocates for themselves. “They should not wait for someone else,” she said of her peers. “At a time when no one speaks, your voice gets so loud everyone has to listen.”
Malala’s activism has not been limited to education. When she met with the Obamas at the White House last year, she spoke out against drone strikes. “Drone attacks are fueling terrorism,” she said. “Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people.”
Malala and Satyarth beat out a record number of 278 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize this year, including Pope Francis.