You Can Be Younger Than Young Justin Trudeau And Still Be A Leader, According to Malala Yousafzai

Yousafzai is now Canada's youngest ever honorary citizen.

Global feminist icon Malala Yousafzai and proud, self-declared feminist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came together in Ottawa on April 12 for a very important event. No, the pair didn't establish world peace (yet!) but they did join forces in the capital city so Yousafzai could receive her honorary Canadian citizenship.

Before meeting Trudeau, Yousafzai said in a speech before parliament, she'd heard a lot about him, but one thing had surprised her: people kept telling her how young he was, as if being a young leader was itself remarkable.

"While it may be true that Prime Minster Trudeau is young and he's a young head of government, I would like to tell something to the children of Canada. You don't have to be as old as the very young Prime Minster Trudeau to be a leader."

Yousafzai would know.

At 19, the education advocate is the youngest person ever to be given one of Canada's highest honors (and the sixth person overall). To say she deserved this prize is an understatement.

As a young girl living in Pakistan, Yousafzai established herself as an advocate for female education, which instantaneously made her a high-profile target of the Taliban. In 2009, 14-year-old Yousafzai was nearly killed when she was shot in the head and neck on the way home from school. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, but not even a near-death experience could stop Yousafzai from continuing her fight for female education around the world.

Yousafzai's latest accolade is just one of many in an ever-growing list, which also includes a Nobel Peace Prize and a Sakharov Prize. When introducing Yousafzai in a speech to the packed House of Commons and presenting her with a certificate of honorary citizenship, Trudeau praised her for the "tremendous things" she has done "for the children of the world."

"Malala, your story is an inspiration to us all," Trudeau said. "The violence you survived at the hands of the Taliban didn't deter you, as it would have for so many others. Rather, you stood even stronger in the face of oppression — your passion for justice only intensified."

Before presenting Yousafzai with a Canadian flag, Trudeau concluded, "Malala Yousafzai, for bravely lending your voice to so many, we thank you. And from this day forward, we are all proud to call you Canadian."

When Yousafzai took the podium to accept her honorary citizenship, she thanked our neighbors to the north for its "passion for girl's education, it's passion for humanity and refugees, and for standing up for women's rights and for peace."

"You are a true example to the world of what it means to stand up for humanity, and I'm hopeful you will inspire many more countries and many more leaders to follow your footsteps," she said. "I'm hopeful that together through our work, we can ensure that every girl can get quality education. That is my mission, and I'm sure that you all will join me in this cause."

In a tweet following the honorary citizenship ceremony, Trudeau echoed his earlier praise of Yousafzai.

Cover image via JStone / Shutterstock.