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Malala On Nobel Prize: 'I Think I Have Won' With Nomination

It seems odd to say that someone "lost" the Nobel Peace Prize. But that's what some folks were saying this week about Malala Yousafzai, who was favored to win the award because of the resilience she showed after being shot in the head by the Taliban.

Yousafzai, 16, was in Washington, D.C., this week, where she and her father, Ziauddin, spoke at an event hosted by NPR's Michel Martin of Tell Me More on Friday, the same day the Nobel Peace Prize went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

When talk turned to whether she was disappointed at not winning the award, the Pakistani teen who refused to back down from her push for education for girls dealt with the question directly. But she started out by explaining that she hadn't been counting on winning the prize.

"The rule that I have in my life to follow is: Always be hopeful. But don't have great expectations. And that's why I'm hopeful," she said.

Malala Yousafzai, 16, and her father, Ziauddin

Yousafzai went on to say that because of the widespread support for her nomination, she feels as if she won.

"If I talk about winning the Nobel Peace Prize or not winning the Nobel Peace Prize, I think I have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Because when I look at the nomination and the support of people — if you just remove the jury — I have won it," she said, as the crowd broke into laughter along with her. "And I'm happy for that."

Yousafzai also suggested that she knows public opinion might someday turn against her — especially if she enters into politics.

"You must be ready for it, because life will never be the same. Changes will come in your life," she said. "Now you're under 18, many people are supporting you. But tomorrow, if you join a party, half of the population will be against you. So I have prepared myself for that."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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