Nobel Peace Prize winner urges young people not to put limits on themselves

MINNEAPOLIS -- Young girls and their families from across the Twin Cities gathered Tuesday night to hear from the world's youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Young girls and their families from across the Twin Cities gathered Tuesday night to hear from the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

Malala Yousafzai, a 19-year-old Pakistani activist who has been targeted by the Taliban, shared her views on the world with those gathered at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

“The world looks big, but it isn’t that big…there are issues that all of us face” Yousafzai said.  “I have learned a lot in my life. And I’m hopeful that I can share the message with people to remind (them) that for the world to change, we must unite."

Yousafzai and her world view have faced daunting odds. She was 15 years old when members of the Taliban shot her in the head for attending school and campaigning for other girls’ right to do the same.

She survived the October 2012 attack and was transported to England for medical attention. Only six months later she resumed her studies and continued her advocacy. In 2014, at 17, the Pashtun girl from Pakistan’s Swat Valley became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.


Yousafzai also spoke about the opportunity young people have to change the world and the obligation she feels to continue her advocacy.

“Don't put limits in your life because you're too young, you haven't learned anything, you're not very clever in should always believe in yourself," Yousafzai urged the crowd. "Believe that you are so important for this world.”

A gifted, but humble speaker, Yousafzai spoke conversationally, about her work and personal life, kept remarkably normal by the effects of school and brothers, she said.

She joked about fights with her family and friends, her meeting with David Beckham, her long-held belief that WWE was real, and her youthful appreciation of Justin Beiber, adding “I was very, very young."

People across Minnesota and the world consider Yousafzai a hero and an inspiration. Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith proclaimed Tuesday, “Malala Yousafzai Day” in honor of her visit.

And yet the 19-year-old Nobel Prize winner is still inspired by others, she said.

Among those who inspire her was a classroom of Somali refugee girls in Minneapolis that she visited earlier Tuesday, Yousafzai said, noting their courage and ambition despite displacement from their home country.

Her message was received well by those attending the Target Center.


“With all the violence that’s has been happening – it’s great to see someone like her as an inspiration,” said Matthew Corcoran of Minneapolis, who came with his wife, Libby. “She has such a positivity and such a beautiful world view.”

Maggie Francis, 9, of Minnetonka, liked the educational aspect of Yousafzai's talk.

“She’s done something good for the world to let girls go to school, and that’s very nice because girls should go to school,” she said. “Girls should be studying and doing all the same things boys are.”

Yousafzai continues to advocate for education, especially of women and girls in developing countries. Her biography, “I Am Malala,” has been an international bestseller. She has spoken to the United Nations and visited girls in refugee camps across the developing world.

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