Malala Yousafzai, the courageous 16-year-old who has championed education for all in the face of Taliban thuggery, has been awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. This comes in the wake of her appearance on The Daily Show last night, where her generosity of spirit was once again on display, as it was in her extraordinary speech at the United Nations earlier this year.
Tomorrow the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced. There are a number of strong candidates, including: Denis Mukwege, medical director of Panzi Hospital in eastern DRC; Claudia Paz y Paz, Guatemala’s Attorney General; and a number of human rights and democracy activists from Russia, China, Vietnam, and elsewhere. There are also a number of candidates who would be embarrassingly awful selections, including: Vladimir Putin, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning.
Malala meanwhile seems to be the perfect choice—someone admired by those whose top priority is human rights and also by those who value nonviolence above all else. The education and empowerment of girls and women around the world would make a tremendous contribution to the global common good. Malala may be young, but that just makes her incredible courage, poise, and compassion even more extraordinary. Mukwege would be an outstanding and truly worthy selection, but my personal preference is for Malala.