Despite the fact that she can't return to her home country because of lingering extremist threats, Malala Yousafzai's Nobel Peace Prize win is prompting shows of support in particular from fellow Pakistani women, who claim her award will serve as inspiration for millions of young women and girls.
According to some estimates, roughly 70% of Pakistan's rural population is illiterate. Rates are even higher among women. Pakistan's own statistics reveal literacy rates as low as 23% for women in some parts of the country, and at just 47% nationally.
Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who won Pakistan its first Academy Award in 2012 for her work documenting the lives of acid attack victims, says Malala's win sends a powerful message across Pakistan.
"Today's Nobel peace prize to Malala signifies that it doesn't matter how old you are or where you come from, if you want to be heard & make a difference all you need is vision & sheer determination," said Obaid-Chinoy."We celebrate Malala's win but we also reflect upon the fact that this young girl cannot return home to the country she loves so very much."
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, daughter of former President Asif Zardari and the late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, met with Malala's family while she recovered in a British hospital two years ago. Today, Zardari noted that Malala's Nobel Prize was an award for her entire country.
Pakistan's former Ambassador to the U.S. and former High Commissioner to the U.K., Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, herself a trailblazer for women in journalism and politics in Pakistan, says she believes the award honors "countless women in Pakistan" who struggle for "the right to education and for equal rights promised to them by the country's Constitution."
"Malala symbolizes that struggle by her courage and extraordinary example," said Lodhi. "She has done all of Pakistan proud but especially the women of Pakistan."