The 17-year-old Pakistani known everywhere as Malala shares the peace prize with the Indian campaigner Kailash Satyarthi, 60, who has fought for 35 years to free thousands of children from virtual slave labour.
Their pairing has the extra symbolism of linking neighbouring countries that have been in conflict for decades. After being named, Malala said she hoped both states’ prime ministers would attend the prize-giving ceremony in Oslo.
Malala will be the star of the annual Nobels extravaganza, also featuring Frenchman Patrick Modiano with the literature prize and his compatriot Jean Tirole with the economics award.
But visitors to the Nobel Peace centre in Oslo can catch a reminder of the very different circumstances that led to Malala’s rise in the international spotlight.
The centre has on loan the uniform the then 15-year-old Malala was wearing in 2012 when a Taliban gunman shot her on a school bus in response to her campaign for girls’ education.
“My school uniform is very important to me... The day I was attacked I was wearing this uniform. I was fighting for my right to go to school,” she said in a statement as the uniform was handed over to the centre on Friday.
Malala will travel to Norway with five other teenage activists from Pakistan, Syria and Nigeria, including Shazia Ramzan, 16, and Kainat Riaz, 17, also shot during the Taliban attack on Malala, and 17-year-old Amina Yusuf, a girls’ education activist from northern Nigeria where the terror group Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls during a raid in April 2014.
“Though I will be one girl receiving this award, I know I am not a lone voice,” Malala said in a statement on Monday. “These courageous girls are not just my friends, they are now my sisters in our campaign for education for every child.”