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Girls & Women

Justin Trudeau Is Awarding Malala Yousafzai Canadian Citizenship

Flickr/United Nations Photo

Hold the phone! This just in. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has officially announced that Canada will award women’s rights and educational activist Malala Yousafzai honorary citizenship during her April 12 visit to Canada’s parliament. 

The Prime Minister announced the distinction in a tweet Monday afternoon: 

“Ms. Yousafzai’s courageous response to those who threatened her life, and her advocacy for girls’ education, has inspired many millions of people around the world,” Trudeau said in the press release. “Her story is one of determination and dignity, and Canada is proud to call her an honorary citizen of this great country.”

Take action: Thank Canada for Pledging $20M in Support of Women’s Health

The 19-year-old Yousafzai, according to the press release, will also become the youngest person to address Canada’s parliament and just the sixth honorary Canadian citizen of all time — following in the steps of the likes of Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the Dalai Lama. 

In 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban simply for going to school in Pakistan. After recovering from her gunshot wounds, she started the Malala Foundation to advocate for girls' education worldwide. 

Yousafzai, for her part, praised Canada for its openness to accepting refugees, saying: “The people of Canada are leading the world in their response to the refugee crisis. I am honoured by Parliament's invitation and look forward to visiting this great nation of heroes.”

Since November 2015, Canada has accepted more than 40,000 Syrian refugees. The US by comparison has resettled just over 10,000 in a similar time period.

On April 12, Yousafzai will speak with the Canadian Prime Minister about “girls’ empowerment through education and how they can actively contribute to the sustainable development of their communities and countries,” the press release stated. 

Read more: It Looks Like Malala Is Heading to Oxford University!

Through her organization, The Malala Fund, Yousafzai has addressed chronic educational disparities that prevent girls from finishing school. The organization invests in local communities, advocates for governments to fill funding gaps for global education, and gives young women a platform to make their voices heard on a global scale. 

Her collaboration with the Canadian government, which has also stepped up for education in past years, and Justin Trudeau has the potential to help girls around the world get an education. 

It will be exciting to see what happens when these stars align.