Malala Yousufzai, shot by the Pakistani Taliban for advocating girls’ education, deserves the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the US, a prominent American lawmaker has said.

Malala, 15, is currently undergoing treatment at a British hospital, after she was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning in favour of education for girls in the Swat Valley against their wishes.

Malala has received global support for her cause.

“I....ask my colleagues to join me in supporting a Congressional Gold Medal for Malala Yousufzai. This is the little girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan standing up for education for our children and for her fellow boys and girls. What an amazing young lady now healing in a British hospital,” Republican Congresswomen from Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee, said on the House floor.

“Sixty-one million children worldwide are not enrolled in school. We’re advocating, or many around the world are advocating, for a Nobel Peace Prize for her. I believe that the Congressional Gold Medal symbolises those who are willing to suffer for others and to make a difference. I ask my colleagues to join me,” she said.

“The United Nations declared Saturday, November 10, 2012, as Malala Day, to highlight the lack of access to education for 32 million girls. I think that we can join together and say we stand with girls and boys around the world and we stand with our children,” she said.

“Support a Congressional Gold Medal for the little girl who was willing to stand up to the Taliban,” Jackson Lee urged her Congressional colleagues.

The highest civilian award bestowed by the US Congress, the Congressional Gold Medal is rarely awarded to foreign nationals.

Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was the last foreign national to be awarded with this top American honour in September.

It has also been awarded to Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, among others.

(This article was published on November 16, 2012)
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