By Maggie Mallon. Photos: Getty Images.
In 2014, girls education activist Malala Yousafzai, then 17, became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Jump ahead two-and-a-half years and 19-year-old Yousafzai is once again making history, this time by becoming the youngest-ever UN Messenger for Peace, the highest honor that can be bestowed by the United Nations, as part of a ceremony held Monday in New York.
Yousafzai became an international figure in 2012 after being shot in the head by the Taliban when returning home from school one afternoon. She was specifically targeted by the group after speaking out about the importance of education for girls—a cause she remains wholly committed to even after the Taliban threatened her life.
"I stood here on this stage almost three and a half years ago...and I told the world that education is the basic human right of every girl," Yousafzai said in her acceptance speech. "I stand here again today and say the same thing."
"Once you educate girls, you change the whole community, you change the whole society," she added. "You are the real change-makers. If you do not stand up, change will not come... It starts with us and it should start now."
The UN Messengers of Peace are chosen to highlighting the work that the UN does and bringing greater attention to the organization. Prominent women and men in entertainment, literature, science, sports, and the arts have all been selected by the UN to carry out this role. Current Messengers of Peace include Jane Goodall, Charlize Theron, Stevie Wonder, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
"It is an enormous pleasure to have you as our Messenger of Peace," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during Monday's event. He then applauded her "courageous defense of the rights of all people, including women and girls, to education and equality" as well as her "unwavering commitment to peace."
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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