By the age of 17, if a teenager has secured a part-time job, a driver’s license and takes home a good report card, they typically feel pretty accomplished. But 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai has already experienced and accomplished more than most do in a lifetime. On October 10, she added another accomplishment to her list: the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi, “for their struggle against oppression of young people and children and children’s right to education,” Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjorn Jagland said.

To get to this monumental point in her life, Yousafzai has been through incomprehensible trials, including threats against her life. But through it all, this young girl has been a beacon to the girls in undeveloped countries, in particular Pakistan.

Yousafzai’s story began in 2009, when the young girl took to a blog to transcribe her thoughts and feelings of the world around her, in her native home of Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan. The Taliban announced an edict that no girls were to be educated. Yousafzai, whose father is a schoolteacher, knew the value of education and chose to attend school, even after the edict was issued.

While journaling her days online, Yousafzai started to receive death threats from the Taliban. On Oct. 9, 2012, the threats came to life.

CNN reported of her attack, “[Gunmen] halted the van…demanded the other girls in the vehicle to identify her…she was pointed out. At least one gunman opened fire, wounding three girls.” The two girls survived the shooting and Malala sustained shots to the head and neck.

Malala underwent a surgery to remove the bullets, and doctors had to remove a part of her skull to reduce brain swelling. She was eventually taken to Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital in the U.K. via helicopter. This young girl who fought for her right to be educated now was fighting to recover from what could have been life-ending injuries. After close to three months, Malala was released from the hospital to rehabilitate in her family’s new home.

Word spread globally of the young heroine, resulting in the United Nations creating a global education campaign entitled, “I am Malala,” even proclaiming November 10 to be Malala Day, focusing on “’Malala and the 32 million girls like Malala not in school.”

Yousafzai recovered from her wounds and returned to school at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham, England. Since the ordeal, she has become a light for girls all over the world.

Yousafzai has created the Malala Fund, which focuses on educating girls in Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria and the girls who are Syrian refugees in Jordan. She has also published a book entitled “I am Malala.”

This advocate for education and most recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize still has work cut out for her. A CNN infographic from 2012 showed over 4.5 million girls are still out of school in Pakistan.

Even though the statistic is staggering, Yousafzai’s influence can be seen in young girls in her home country. Ahmad Shah, who was an aide to Yousafzai’s father and an educator himself, asked a young girl what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her reply? “I want to become Malala Yousafzai to work for education and peace,” Shah recalled.

The world has its eyes on Malala Yousafzai for now and for the foreseeable future because she is sure to change the world, one little girl at a time.

– Kori Withers

Sources: CNN, CNN 2, The Washington Post, Nobel Prize
Photo: Flickr

The name of Martin Luther King Jr. is synonymous with the civil rights movement in the United States. Here are five interesting facts about him.

  1. Martin Luther King Jr. was actually born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. The civil rights leader’s name was changed after his father traveled to Germany and was inspired by the Protestant Reformation Leader Martin Luther. His inspiration resulted in his father changing both his own and Jr’s names.
  2. King excelled in school. He entered college at age 15, attending Morehouse College graduating with a degree in sociology. King earned a divinity degree from Pennsylvania’s Crozer Theological Seminary, and he also attended Boston University where he received his PhD in 1955.
  3. King was jailed 29 times over the course of his life. Most of the reasons he was jailed were for acts of civil disobedience, and utterly ridiculous charges including driving 30mph in a 25mph zone- evidence of the time.
  4. Martin Luther King Jr was the first African American to be named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. King was also the youngest person, at the time, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the civil rights movement.
  5. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech held at the Lincoln Memorial was at the time one of the largest demonstrations in Washington history. More than 250,000 people attended the speech. The speech took place during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  The iconic speech, however, was not King’s first at Lincoln memorial. He delivered his first national address at the monument, where he spoke on the topic of voting rights.

– Caitlin Zusy 



Sources: CNN, History
Photo: Seattle Times

For the last five years, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been detained and serving a sentenced term in prison.

In 2008, Liu was confined for participating in Charter 08, which was a manifesto that called for democratic reforms in China. Due to this, Liu is now serving an 11 year sentence “for inciting subversion of state power.”

In light of Liu’s fifth anniversary of imprisonment, the world also experienced a devastating loss with the passing of Nelson Mandela. Coincidentally, Liu has been dubbed the moniker of “The Nelson Mandela of China.”

Both individuals earned prison time for the same efforts that also landed them their Nobel Peace Prizes. The Chinese government became highly uncomfortable at the similarities of these two individuals, and at the timing of the events.

No different than the rest of the world’s media, China aired coverage of the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. The coverage was censored, however, and excluded any “sensitive topics” that would have correlated directly to human rights and democracy or South Africa’s close diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry honored the anniversary of Liu’s imprisonment by providing a statement, prodding China to release Liu from prison, and his wife from her house arrest. Chinese foreign ministry responded by saying that Kerry “had no right to comment on the fate of Mr. and Ms. Liu.”

Chinese foreign ministry also went on to say that “China’s 1.3 billion people have the best right to talk about the country’s human rights.” Although various parts of the world consider Liu to be the “Mandela of China,” Chinese government abhors the comparison between the two individuals.

An editorial in Global Times was quoted saying, “Mandela was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for leading African people to anti-apartheid victory through struggles, tolerance, and efforts to bridge differences. However, awarding a Chinese prisoner who confronted authorities and was rejected by mainstream Chinese society derides China’s judiciary system.”

Yet at one point in time, South African authorities also considered Mandela a “prisoner who confronted authorities and was rejected by ‘mainstream’ society.”

As of November of this year, Liu’s lawyer released a statement saying that “the dissident intends to ask for a retrial.”

Retrials are not common, but with so much pressure from western countries, there may be an interesting turn of events. Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights was quoted saying that the chances of winning a retrial were small, but nonetheless, worth a shot with new leadership in place.

Liu Xia, the wife that is on house arrest, is believed to be suffering from severe depression. She has been denied any private medical care, and was financially dependent upon her brother until he too was jailed in 2011.

Xia and her brother have yet to be charged with an actual crime, other than the support of Liu and his efforts. Chinese officials have yet to acknowledge that Xia is even being detained. As the U.S continues to build a relationship with China, they hope to see progress made for Liu and his loved ones.

– Samaria Garrett

Sources: The Guardian, The Guardian, US News

Nobel peace price borgen project
The Nobel Peace Prize is the most distinguished prize in the world. Every year, one individual “who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses” is awarded the prize. The prize is the stuff of myth in terms of both prestige and mystery: how and why was it ever conceived? Why is the Peace Prize so legendary and illustrious?

In 1895, Swedish industrial magnate Alfred Bernhard Nobel hand-drafted the first conceptions of the prestigious Nobel Prizes in his will. Nobel left his vast wealth for the awarding of five annual prizes to five individuals in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, and, most prestigious of all, Peace.

The man behind the prize is a character steeped in paradox and enigma. Son of salt-of-the-earth inventor and builder Immanuel Nobel, Alfred Nobel’s childhood was filled with frequent moving and change from Stockholm to St. Petersburg, and from modest means to bourgeois status. Growing up, Nobel was a quiet intellectual who preferred the solitude of philosophy books and writing; his weak health surely contributed to his broody temperaments.

Alfred Nobel, along with his brothers, was tutored to become fluent in five languages, and taught fundamental mathematics, physics, and chemistry while in St. Petersburg. He eventually received training to become a chemist and engineer, leading to his invention of dynamite as well as other explosives used in modern warfare. Ironic, for the man who would become posthumously famous for the most famous prize in world peace, explosives was Nobel’s industry and base for wealth.

It is suggested by historians that his belated adjustments to his will to include the Prizes were inspired by a poignant but nevertheless strange occurrence. When his brother died in Cannes, France in 1888, the French papers mistook his brother for the Alfred Nobel. The headlines read: “Le marchand de la mort est mort” (“The Merchant of Death is dead”). His brother’s obituary was eerily a dress rehearsal for his own—one that he did not want for himself for when his time finally came. Historians conclude that Nobel, who was also a philosopher and pacifist, belatedly added the prizes to his will to ameliorate his fears of posthumous disrepute.

The curious case of Alfred Nobel aside, the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize is an undeniable medium of both change and historic record. Reading the accomplishments of the award through its 110 years is to turn through the pages of Modern history.

For example, there were no prizes for award peace during the tumultuous First World War that ended with no victors—only a whimper. The only prize awarded during the war years was to the Red Cross. The same occurred during WWII.

In the 1990s, “Pluralist Globalization” seemed to be the theme of the prizes. In 1990 for example, Mikhail Gorbachev was controversially awarded the Peace Prize because The Norwegian Nobel Committee had seen that he had done the most to end the Cold War. In 1993 Nelson Mandela and Frederick Willem de Klerk were award the Peace Prize for their work towards ending the violence and oppression of Apartied in South Africa.

But above all controversy and politics, the prize paints an enduring narrative of the human desire for salvation from suffering and war.

– Malika Gumpangkum

Sources: Britannica, Nobel Prize, Sweden
Photo: ABC

10 Facts You Should Know About the Nobel Peace Prize
It is a prize that is both coveted and renowned worldwide. As the date of announcement grows closer, here are ten facts to know about the Nobel Peace Prize.

  1. This year the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced at 11:00 AM on October 9, 2013 by Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
  2. Every year, the Nobel Prize (including the Peace Prize) is awarded in Oslo, Norway and administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace.
  3. There is a 50 Year Secrecy Rule in regard to the prize nominees and the grounds they were selected. The Committee does not announce the names of nominees to either the media or the candidates themselves.
  4. Since 1901, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 93 times to 124 laureates. It was not awarded on 19 occasions: in 1914-1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939- 1943, 1948, 1955-1956, 1966-1967 and 1972.
  5. The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.
  6. Of the 100 individuals awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 15 are women. The first time a Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a woman was in 1905, to Bertha von Suttner.
  7. The work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been honored the most – three times – by a Nobel Peace Prize.
  8. The Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho, awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, is the only person who has declined the Nobel Peace Prize. They were both awarded the Prize for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Doc Tho said that he was not in a position to accept the Nobel Prize, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason.
  9. The oldest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to date is Joseph Rotblat, who was 87 years old when he was awarded the Prize in 1995.
  10. To date, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is Tawakkol Karman, 32 years old when awarded the 2011 Peace Prize.

– Kira Maixner
Source: Nobel Prize
Photo: Essence