Malala Yousafzai celebrated her Nobel Peace Prize where she always wished to be: in school.
The Pakistani girl once shot by the Taliban for daring to want an education just like the boys celebrated being the joint winner of the peace prize Friday with her classmates at Edgbaston High School for girls in Birmingham, the city in central England that she now calls home. She was in a chemistry lesson when a teacher told her she had won the prize.
The teenager, now 17, had travelled to Birmingham for medical treatment after being targeted by the Taliban for her relentless objections to the group's regressive interpretation of Islam that limits girls' access to education. She was shot while returning home from school in Pakistan's scenic Swat Valley two years ago, almost to the day.
"This award is for all those children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard. I speak for them and I stand up with them. And I join them in their campaign," she said at a news conference Friday at Birmingham Library. "They have rights. They have the right to receive quality education, they have right not to suffer from child labour, not to suffer from child trafficking. They have the right to live a happy life."
She said it was an honour for her to share the prize with Kailash Satyarthi of India, 60, who has spent a lifetime working against child slavery and exploitation. She also invited the leaders prime ministers of both India and Pakistan to attend the Nobel awards ceremony on Dec. 10. Mr. Satyarthi has been at the forefront of a global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labour., which he called a "blot on humanity."
"Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here. A lot of work still remains, but I will see the end of child labour in my lifetime," he told The Associated Press at his office in New Delhi.
The Nobel committee said Mr. Satyarthi was carrying on the tradition of another great Indian, Mahatma Gandhi, who remains the most notable omission in the 113-year history of the Nobel Peace Prize, by leading "various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain."
Mr. Satyarthi learned he had won the prize on Twitter before he got a call from the Nobel committee. Ms. Yousafzai was in a chemistry lesson when a teacher told her of the honour.
Ms. Yousafzai won worldwide recognition, and the teen, now 17, has become an icon for the struggle for the rights of women and girls in Pakistan. In an indication of her reach, she spoke before the United Nations and made the shortlist for Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2012.
But the journey was simply improbable.
On Oct. 9, 2012, Ms. Yousafzai climbed into the back of a small pick-up truck used to transport Swat Valley children home from school. They laughed and talked as the truck rumbled over roads lined with pot holes. As they approached a narrow bridge over a garbage-strewn stream, a masked man with a gun suddenly stopped the truck. Another man with a pistol jumped into the back.
"Who is Malala?" he shouted.
The girls did not answer but heads automatically swivelled toward her. The man raised his pistol and shot her on the top of the head. Two other students were also hit.
Ms. Yousafzai was first treated in Pakistan, then transferred to a hospital in England where gradually regained her sight and her voice. Three months later she walked out of the hospital, smiling shyly as she cautiously strode down the corridor. A year ago she co-authored a memoir. It's called I am Malala.