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Malala Yousafzai Becomes the Youngest Ever UN Messenger of Peace

This week, she will become the youngest person to address Canada’s parliament and just the sixth person ever to receive honorary Canadian citizenship. And now, the inspirational Pakistani teenager has been made the youngest ever UN Messenger of Peace. Not bad for a 19-year-old, who is doing her A-levels and has an offer to study PPE at Oxford University.

Accepting the accolade at a ceremony in New York on Monday, the activist said: “[Bringing change] starts with us and it should start now. If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now, not wait for anyone else.”

 Malala Yousafzai is presented a certificate from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Yousafzai was shot in the head in October, 2012, aged 15, for speaking out against the Taliban and its ban on female education. She now lives in the UK and attends school in Birmingham, while leading a fearless campaign to give all children access to education.

According to the UN, Messengers of Peace are “distinguished individuals” who are recognized for dedicating their “time, talent and passion to raise awareness of UN’s efforts to improve the lives of billions of people everywhere.”

In his address to Malala, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “You are not only a hero, but you are a very committed and generous person, and the person that has this fantastic quality…a Nobel Prize, recognized everywhere, and you keep the same simplicity, the same open way to deal with all of us. People usually when they get all these honors become full of vanity, they become difficult to access, but you are this fantastic example of friendship and simplicity that really makes us very, very, very appreciative.”

He added, “[You are a] symbol of perhaps the most important thing in the world, education for all.”

Following the prize giving in New York, Yousafzai will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, to discuss girls’ empowerment through education and how to sustainably develop their communities and countries.

This article originally appeared on www.elle.com