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Sep 28, 2013 04:52 AM EDT

Malala Yousafzai Receives 2013 Humanitarian Award from Harvard University

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Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in October 2012 has been honored with Harvard University's Humanitarian of the Year.

Yousafzai, who advocates women's education, received the 2013 Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award Friday.

While receiving the award at Harvard's Sanders Theatre, Yousafzai said "Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world. Let us stand up for our rights, and let us fight. Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow's reality," reports Boston Globe.

"Your words and deeds have served to advance humanity," S. Allen Counter, director of the foundation said to Yousafzai.

Yousafzai aspires to become a politician because leaders have a wider influence on the society. She also hopes to return to Swat Valley, her homeland, someday. She described the region both as a 'paradise' and unsafe area where militants bombed dozens of schools.

"The so-called Taliban were afraid of women's power and were afraid of the power of education," Yousafzai told thousands of attendees during the ceremony, quoted in the Washington Post. "At that time, we did not keep silent. We raised our voice for the right of education. Although few people spoke, but the voice for peace and education was powerful."

During the ceremony, Yousafzai also described her feelings when she opened her eyes for the first time in a U.K. hospital, following the assassination attempt in Pakistan. On October 9, 2012, she was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen when she was returning home in a school bus.

"And when I was in Birmingham, I didn't know where I was, I didn't know where my parents are, I didn't know who has shot me and I had no idea what was happening," Yousafzai said. "But I thank God that I'm alive."

Yousafzai urged for global support for children displaced and endangered by fighting in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

 "Your courage is sending a strong message to women to stand up for their rights, which constitutes a precondition for peace," chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland told the Post.

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