CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Taliban last year because of her push for education for girls in Pakistan, has been traveling the world calling for greater access to education, and for peace and equality.
On Friday the 16-year-old took that message to Harvard University.
“I want the students and the girls of Pakistan to be educated in the same amazing and historical places as this Harvard University is,” Malala told a gathering of reporters and onlookers in Harvard Yard. “So I hope that one day when I’ll go back to Pakistan, I will build a university like Harvard.”
Malala is here to receive the Harvard Foundation’s 2013 Peter Gomes Humanitarian Award.
The Taliban admitted to shooting Malala on a bus in October 2012 because of her outspokenness. Remarkably, she recovered from the shooting after several surgeries in England, where she is now living, going to school and continuing to speak out.
“Those people consider themselves powerful just because of having guns in their hands,” she said of the Taliban and other terrorists. “But I think I am powerful and I will be powerful if I empower myself with education and with knowledge. And if you are with me, and if we all are together, and if we raise our voice and if we speak up for our rights, then no one can defeat us. And we shall not be afraid of anyone.”
Malala spoke at the United Nations on her 16th birthday in July and said the shooting has given her a new sense of courage. Her efforts have led to her becoming the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee in history.
“So, if we want to see peace in the world, we must take an action,” she said Friday. “And we must raise up our voice. And I hope that this university and the people of Boston will support me in my campaign and a day will come — the day every girl will be at school and she will be getting her education.”
And to help make that happen, Malala said she no longer wants to be doctor, but a politician.
“A doctor can only treat patients. A doctor can only help the people who are shot or who are injured,” she told the crowd. “But a politician can stop people from injuries. A politician can take a step so that no person is scared tomorrow.”