19-year-old Malala Yousafzai has been made the youngest ever UN Messenger of Peace, accepting the award on Monday in New York City.
The Pakistani school-girl, currently completing her A-levels after receiving an offer from a top UK university, will take on the role with a focus on female education.
Yousafzai became renowned in 2012, after being shot in the head by the Taliban on her way home from school. Since surviving the attack, she has campaigned for the rights of girls worldwide to access education. She became a target after campaigning against efforts by the Taliban to deny women education.
Two years later, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Accepting the achievement from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Malala said: “I stood here on this stage almost three and a half years ago … and I told the world that education is the basic human right of every girl,”
“And I stand here again today and say the same thing. Once you educate girls, you change the whole community, you change the whole society.”
Her impassioned speech also called upon other girls from her home country to have the confidence to stand up and strive for what they want to achieve.
“You need to stand up … you need to believe in yourselves,” she told them. “You are the real change-makers. If you do not stand up, change will not come … It starts with us and it should start now.”
Messengers are chosen from a variety of fields, including entertainment, sports, arts and sciences. Their role is to focus global attention on the ideals of the United Nations.
Other Messengers of Peace include Leonardo DiCaprio for his work on climate change, and Stevie Wonder.