WASHINGTON: Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has been honoured by Harvard University for her global work promoting girls education.
Pakistani education activist and the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate received the 2018 Gleitsman Award on Thursday from the Centre for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School for her global movement to equip girls with 12 years of free, quality and safe education.
The 21-year-old was presented the award at a public ceremony held in Harvard Kennedy School.
Malala became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 when she was recognised for her global work supporting schooling for all children.
Malala made a brief speech followed by a discussion with the audience, moderated by Samantha Power former US ambassador to the United Nations, saying :"Right now, there are 130 million girls who do not have access to a quality education."
"We should all make it our challenge to challenge those critical views, all those religious beliefs, and all those cultures that deny us an education," Malala added.
She urged politicians to be more 'welcoming' and sympathetic to the plight of refugees, adding that the threat of climate change should remind people of the shared humanity of refugees and other at-risk groups.
"We need to look at it from the human eye and be more welcoming and consider themselves as our brothers and sisters," she added.
"And lets understand that we are living on this one Planet Earth, which is already in danger, which is already at a great risk because of climate change."
New York Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked malala what role men play in the 'liberation' of women.
"A very large amount of successful women, whether they are female CEOs of Fortune 500s, or female heads of state, one of the most common things that they talk about is that they all report a strong relationship with their fathers," noted Ocasio-Cortez.
Malala cited her own father''s evolution growing up in an environment in which women had almost no rights to becoming a wholehearted supporter of his daughter's work.
"He knew that it was unfair," she said.
"He knew that he had to change, so he challenged himself first and said, "I am not going to treat my daughter this way. I am going to send her to school. I am going to let her speak out."
Empowering women is not just giving something to women, but it also contributes to our economy, to everyone else, Malala said.
The Gleitzman Award, whose previous recipients include South African President Nelson Mandela and US Representative John R. Lewis, is presented biennially to an individual who has sparked positive social change and inspired others to do the same, according to the Kennedy School's website.
Malala, in an interview prior to the event, called it a great honour to be back at Harvard, five years after first visiting the University to receive the Harvard Foundation's Peter Gomes Humanitarian Award.
She urged students to devote more time and effort toward promoting girls' education.