Malala Yousafzai named as youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace

The education activist from Pakistan said: "If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now"

Malala Yousafzai named as youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace

Secretary-General António Guterres designates children’s rights activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai as a UN Messenger of Peace. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai has been named as the UN's youngest-ever Messenger of Peace.

The UN describes Messengers of Peace as 'distinguished individuals' from across various aspects of public life who are chosen to raise awareness of the work of the organisation. 

It is also described as the "highest honour bestowed by the Secretary-General on a global citizen".

Messengers initially serve for a period of two years, but that is often extended.

Current Messengers of Peace include Charlize Theron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Douglas, Stevie Wonder, Jane Goodall, and Jordanian Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein.

19-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by a Taliban gunman in 2012. She had already received widespread international attention for her efforts detailing life under the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

After recovering from the attempted murder, Malala went on to become a prominent activist for female education.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. She remains the youngest ever Nobel Laureate.

Accepting her latest honour from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Malala said: “[Bringing change] starts with us and it should start now. If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now [and] not wait for anyone else."

Discussing her initial decision to speak out against the Taliban, she observed: "We were at a point of making a decision about whether to speak out or remain silent. And I realized that if you remain silent, you are still going to be terrorised. So speaking out, you can help people.”

Mr Guterres, meanwhile, described the young activist as a "symbol of perhaps the most important thing in the world, education for all".

He added that her life is “a remarkable example of solidarity.”