SULTAN JESSA: Canada honours Malala with honourary citizenship

The youngest Nobel laureate ever is also the youngest person to be awarded honourary Canadian citizenship.

Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani child rights activist, has been relentlessly working for rights of education and for women particularly in those areas where girls are banned from attending schools.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was compelled to postpone honouring Malala’s courage and campaign because of the crisis in Ottawa when a lone gunman burst into the House of Commons and started firing after killing a soldier at the War Memorial.

Malala has become the sixth person being honoured by the Canadian government.

In October 2012, Malala – then only 15 years old – was shot by a Taliban gunman in the face as a show of the fundamentalists’ opposition to her efforts to promote schooling for girls.

The young girl survived and she is today being celebrated and feted as an international symbol and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Ottawa and the House of Commons have to be lauded for honouring Malala.

Malala is famously known as the girl who braved Taliban bullets while on her way back from school in Swat, Pakistan.

Since the ordeal the young girl has been devoting her full time advocating for girl’s education on international platforms.

On her 16th birthday on July 12, 2014, she spoke at the United Nations in New York calling for girl’s education worldwide.

The UN dubbed the event “Malala Day.”

Canada does not give out honourary citizenship lightly.

Among others who have received the honour are Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Aung Sun Kyi, His Highness the Aga Khan and Raoul Wallenberg.

Malala nearly died when she was shot by a Taliban gunman.

But, since the she has shown courage and recovered and also inspired many people around the world.

She continues to inspire others.

Malala is a reminder to us that women will not be silenced or threatened into silence.

She has become the global spokes person on the importance to education.

Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi, the 60-year-old children’s activist from India.

It would have been nice to see Canada honour the two Nobel laureates, a Pakistani and an Indian at the same time.

Malala became an instant celebrity by accident.

Satyarthi’s work has not been in the international limelight.

As a six year old boy, the Indian started a soccer club, using the membership fees to pay the school fees for children too poor to afford them.

He and a friend collected donations of 2,000 school books in a single day.

This project eventually became a book bank in his town.

Satyarthi, who was inspired by Gandhi, chaired a global march against child labour through 60 countries around the world in 1998.

He has won multiple international awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Human rights Award.

His work has included raids on factories rescuing children from enslavement.

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