OKLAHOMA CITY, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum today announced it will honor human rights activists Ziauddin and Malala Yousafzai with the 2013 Reflections of Hope Award. Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai, will present globally telecast remarks in Oklahoma City on April 8, 2013, and receive the award on their behalf in his first trip to the United States since the Taliban's assassination attempt on Malala in October last year.
"Malala and I are honored, and very grateful, to have been chosen as this year's recipients of the Reflections of Hope Award; I look forward to attending the ceremony in Oklahoma City in April," said Ziauddin Yousafzai. "Many thousands of people from around the world have reached out to our family to express their support and love, and it is extremely touching to know that the people of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum are among them."
Ziauddin Yousafzai is a renowned education and sociopolitical leader. Seventeen years ago, he founded—and still directs—the Khushal Public School in Pakistan, an all-girls institution created with the goal to foster a new generation of female leadership in an area where the Taliban has banned girls from attending school. His 15-year-old daughter, Malala—an outspoken activist in her own right—attended the school until October 2012 when the Taliban shot her in an assassination attempt on the school bus on her way home from classes.
For five years, Yousafzai served as spokesperson for Swat Qaumi Jirga, an anti-Taliban council of notable elders in the Swat Valley area of Pakistan charged with protecting its citizens' rights. As the former president of Swat's Private Schools Management Association, Yousafzai continued to be a vocal advocate for widespread access to education. Last year the United Nations appointed him Special Advisor on Global Education, and in February 2013 was named the educational attaché of Pakistan in its consulate in Birmingham, United Kingdom, where Malala has been treated since the attack.
In early 2009 Malala first came to public attention by writing for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban. Using the pen name, Gul Makai, she often spoke about her family's fight for girls' education in their community. Her courage in speaking out about life under Taliban rule earned Malala attention around the world.
The New York Times followed her posts, and produced a documentary film chronicling the family's efforts to advance the cause. Malala began to rise in prominence, and took a position as chairperson of the District Child Assembly in Swat. She spoke for the right of girls to be educated in many forums, and participated in various talk shows, seminars, and marches to motivate children to obtain an education.
Malala has since received a number of honors, including Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize. In addition, she served as the inspiration for former British Prime Minister and current U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown's U.N. petition demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015.
Her most recent accolade, the Reflections of Hope Award, honors a living person or active organization whose conduct exemplifies in an extraordinary fashion two core beliefs of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation: that hope can survive and blossom despite the tragedy and chaos of political violence and that, even in environments marred by such violence, peaceful approaches provide the best answers to human problems.
"One opportunity that extends from our core mission to educate about the impact of violence is to increase our role as an advocate for violence prevention in Oklahoma City and throughout the world," said Kari Watkins, executive director, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. "In the hands of courageous and resilient leaders like Ziauddin and Malala Yousafzai, I can think of no better tool than education to disarm violence, and eventually construct a peaceful landscape for generations to come."
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum will honor the Yousafzais, represented by Ziauddin Yousafzai, at a reception and dinner on April 8, 2013, leading up to the 18th anniversary of the April 19 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The reception and dinner will be at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, in an event co-chaired by Walt and Ann-Clore Duncan and Traci Cook.
For ticketing information, as well as a list of past honorees, visit www.reflectionsofhopeaward.org. The Reflections of Hope Award, established in 2005, is made possible through the generous support of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum educates visitors about the impact of violence and terrorism, teaches the lessons learned from the Oklahoma City bombing and inspires hope and healing from those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. For more information on the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, call 1.888.542.HOPE or visit www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org.
Ann Clark, Edelman
212.704.8296 or 646.263.7552
SOURCE Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum