It is for me a very emotional day to be here with you. You are the symbol of one of the most important causes in the world – probably the most important cause in the world – and that is education, education for all, and particularly because we know it is more difficult in many societies – education for girls.
Now, I must say I am a frustrated ex Assistant Professor of Physics in my University. When I say frustrated, because I wanted to be a Professor but with the revolution in Portugal I had to close all my papers and dedicate myself to other things. But there was always this nostalgia, being a professor, and can you imagine what it is for a frustrated Professor to be facing the most famous student in the world. It is an enormous pleasure to have you as our Messenger of Peace.
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 honours 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.
On the other hand, you have been going to the most difficult places, where education has more problems in becoming a reality. You have visited several refugee camps. You have two schools of your foundation in Lebanon, in the Beka’a Valley, where so many refugees are. I have spent ten years of my life dealing with refugees, so you can imagine how happy I am to be able to confer to you the important responsibility of being a Messenger of Peace. I am in total denial of protocol, but I think I have to read something here.
This is your assignment. Today, I am proud to designate you the youngest ever United Nations Messenger of Peace, with a special focus on girls’ education.
This is the official designation: “inspired by your dedicated service to the ideals and objectives of the United Nations, especially its vision of a life of dignity for all people admiring of your courageous defense of the rights of all people, including women and girls, to education and equality honouring the fact that you have shown, even in the face of grave danger, an unwavering commitment to peace conscious of your consistent focus on the best in humankind and your resolve to foster a better world grateful that your example has energized people of goodwill to join together in pursuit of our common values hopeful that your principled activism will advance our shared vision of a future of justice, equity and sustainable progress it takes great pride and pleasure to me in proclaiming Malala Yousafzai a United Nations Messenger of Peace”.