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Human rights activists to be honored by Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

Human rights activist Ziauddin Yousafzai will accept the 2013 Reflections of Hope Award at a luncheon hosted at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Yousafzai will receive the award on behalf of himself and his daughter and fellow activist, Malala Yousafzai.
BY ASHLEY GIBSON, For The Oklahoman Published: May 5, 2013
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The story of a Pakistani father and daughter who will be honored on May 13 by officials from the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is one everyone should hear, particularly young girls, a museum executive said.

Human rights activist Ziauddin Yousafzai will accept the 2013 Reflections of Hope Award at a luncheon hosted at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Yousafzai will receive the award on behalf of himself and his daughter and fellow activist, Malala Yousafzai.

The family garnered international attention last October when a member of the Taliban shot Malala, 15, in the head at close range on a bus ride home from school. The Taliban targeted Malala for speaking out against the organization's efforts to ban girls from going to school in Pakistan. Her father, Ziauddin, founded and directs the Khushal Public School in Pakistan, an all-girls institution. He has also been involved with Swat Qaumi Jirga, an anti-Taliban council in the Swat Valley area of Pakistan.

Despite the assassination attempt, the family continues to advocate for the educational rights of girls and that makes them a natural fit for the Reflections of Hope Award that comes with a $25,000 gift to be used toward fighting terrorism, said Kari Watkins, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum executive director.

“They represent hope in the midst of political violence,” Watkins said. “Malala has marched on. She has persevered. She literally stood in the face of terror and was able to bring hope to other girls who wanted to go to school, and she made that option available to them when many others said it was too dangerous or too scary.”

Watkins said she hopes several school-age girls will attend the luncheon to hear more about the story of Malala, who has regained her eyesight and ability to walk and talk since the shooting, and is now attending school in Birmingham, England. Malala will either send video remarks or join the luncheon through a live webcast.

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