BIRMINGHAM England (Reuters) - Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai said she was in a chemistry lesson when a teacher informed her on Friday that she had become joint winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The 17-year-old, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ right to education, is the youngest winner of the award, which she shared with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian campaigner against child trafficking and labor.
“I was totally sure I hadn’t won it but then suddenly one of my teachers came to the class and she called me and she said ‘I have something important to tell you’,” she told reporters in the central English city of Birmingham where she now lives and attends school.
“I was totally surprised when she told me ‘congratulations, you have won the Nobel Peace Prize and you are sharing it with a great person who is also working for children’s rights’.”
Yousafzai said winning the Nobel Prize had strengthened her desire to campaign for the right of all children to an education.
“It’s sometimes quite difficult to express your feelings but I felt really honored, I felt more powerful and more courageous because this award is not just a piece of metal or a medal that you would wear, or an award that you would keep in your room,” she said.
“I have received this award but this is not the end. This is not the end of this campaign which I have started. I think this is really the beginning. I want to see every child going to school.”
Unable to return to Pakistan after her recovery from the Taliban attack, Yousafzai set up the Malala Fund to support local education advocacy groups.
Yousafzai said she had spoken by telephone on Friday with Satyarthi, 60, the first Indian-born winner of the accolade, and both had agreed to work together to do what they could to ensure every child received a quality education.
“I believe that the Nobel committee, they haven’t given it just to me, but this award is for all those children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard,” she said.
Yousafzai said she had agreed with Satyarthi to invite the prime ministers of India and Pakistan to attend the prize ceremony in December to help ease escalating tensions between their two countries.
“The tension that is going on is really disappointing and I’m really sad because I want both countries to have dialogue to have talks about peace,” she said.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and former prime minister Gordon Brown, who is now the United Nations’ special envoy on global education, were among those who sent their congratulations.
“She (Yousafzai) is certainly going to be a public figure in the life of the world for many, many years to come,” Brown said.
“This is a recognition formally that this liberation movement that’s happening round the world led by Kailash and Malala - who are the two greatest children’s campaigners - is something that has got to be firmly on the international agenda for years to come.”
Additional reporting by William James; Writing by Michael Holden; Editing by Gareth Jones