Teenage Pakistani education rights activist Malala Yousafzai today became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate after officially receiving the prize at a ceremony in the Norwegian capital Oslo.
The 17-year-old showed no signs of nerves as she received the 24-carat Nobel medal and diploma alongside co-winner Kailash Satyarthi, the renowned Indian children’s rights campaigner, before an audience that included members of the Norwegian royal family as well as a slew of celebrities including rocker Steven Tyler and actress and rapper Queen Latifah.
Malala didn’t bat an eyelid even as she was interrupted by a young student wielding a Mexican flag.
The young man is believed to have arrived claiming asylum in Norway earlier this week but had somehow managed to enter the venue despite tight security.
Whilst there hasn’t been confirmation about what he was protesting about, it is believed that he wanted to raise the issue of the 43 Mexican students recently kidnapped and murdered by a drug cartel.
Before the disruption, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee had spoken about Malala and Satyarthi’s shared values.
Thorbjorn Jagland said: “Satyarthi and Yousafzai are precisely the people whom Alfred Nobel in his will calls ‘champions of peace’. A young girl and a somewhat older man, one from Pakistan and one from India, one Muslim, the other Hindu; both symbols of what the world needs: more unity. Fraternity between the nations.”
Mr Jagland also invoked the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and how both Satyarthi and Yousafzai were perpetuating his teachings.
“The two whom we honour here today stand very firm on this point. They live according to a principle Mahatma Gandhi gave expression to. He said: ‘There are many purposes I would have died for. There are no purposes I would have killed for'”.
In its official citation, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee said Ms Yousafzai and Mr Satyarthi were honoured for their “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.
Hours before the ceremony Malala had declared her ambition of becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Accepting her award, she showed she certainly the confidence and public speaking skills for the job, moving many in the audience – including Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit – to tears whilst also eliciting plenty of laughs.
“I’m humbled that the Nobel Committee has selected me for this precious award. I’m very proud to be the first Pashtu and first Pakistani to receive this award. Along with that, I’m pretty certain that I’m the first recipient who still fights with her younger brothers”, she said.
“I want peace everywhere but my brothers and I are still working on that”, Malala added.
Dressed in a grey sweater over her orange Shalwar Kameez and veiled in a simple salmon-coloured shawl, Malala thanked her father for “not clipping my wings and letting me fly”, which attracted rapturous applause.
Satyarthi – who has campaigned for children’s rights for “twice as long as I have lived”, as described by Malala – said: “There is no greater violence than to deny the dreams of our children.
“I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can ever be stronger than the quest for freedom”.
The two campaigners will share the $1.4 million dollar prize.
Watch the full ceremony here: