Malala Yousafzai receives EU’s highest human rights prize

Strasbourg award for girl who defied terrorists.

Taliban-defying Birmingham schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has been presented with the EU’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this morning.

The teenager survived being shot in the head on her school bus in northern Pakistan after being targeted by extremists for campaigning for the right of girls to have an education.

The EU’s top human rights award is named after physicist and leading Soviet Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov and previous winners have included Nelson Mandela, Argentinian civil rights group Mothers of the Plaza del Mayo and the instigators of the Arab Spring .

The young Pakistani schoolgirl who took to a blog to protest against the Taliban’s closure of girls schools in her region of the Swat valley. In October 2012, once her school had re-opened, she was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by gunmen while returning home on a school bus.

Since the attempt on her life, and months of specialist medical treatment in Birmingham, she has captured the attention of the world in her fight for access to education for young girls.

Malala, aged 16, now lives in Birmingham while continuing her recovery and schooling.