Malala’s blood-stained uniform becomes powerful symbol

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New exhibit opened today at Canadian Museum for Human Rights 

The school uniform that Malala Yousafzai was wearing when she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman has become a symbol of courage, preserved by its owner to inspire action for girls' right to education around the world.

The artifact is now on display in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), where it will be available for public viewing – along with Malala's 2014 Nobel Peace Prize diploma – until March 14, 2017, courtesy of the Yousafzai family.

"When I would go to school, I was wearing this uniform and the day I was attacked, I was wearing this uniform and I was fighting for my right to get education – so it's very important to me," Malala says in a video that plays in gallery. "Now I want to show it to children, to people all around the world that this is my right, it is the right of every child to go to school and this should not be neglected."

Malala was 15 years old when a gunman boarded her school bus in Pakistan, asked for her by name and shot her, because of her outspoken advocacy for girls' education. Her life was saved in a nearby military hospital, where British doctors stabilized her, then airlifted her to the United Kingdom for surgery, still wearing the blood‐soaked uniform that now hangs in the CMHR.

The new exhibit Girl of Courage: Malala's Fight for Education, is located in the Museum's "Rights Today" gallery on Level 5. "This exhibit recognizes Malala as a human rights champion who continues to speak out, undaunted even by a gunman's attempt to silence her," said curator Isabelle Masson. "It's also about youth themselves as agents of change, taking a stand and being vocal."

Malala was blogging anonymously for BBC Urdu at age 11, talking about fears that her school would be attacked. Television and music had been banned, women were prevented from going shopping, and Malala's father, a teacher, was told that his school had to close. As a teenager, she began to take an open, public stand and attract more attention from the international media.

In 2011, she received Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children's Peace Prize. In response to her rising popularity and national recognition, Taliban leaders voted to kill her. In 2012, she was attacked on the bus on her way to school.

At 17, Malala became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was made an honorary Canadian citizen the same year. In 2014, her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai also visited the CMHR, which features two other exhibit elements about Malala and her ongoing human rights work, campaigning for more than 60 million girls globally who are denied education because of discrimination, conflict and poverty. The Malala Fund, founded by Malala and her father in 2013, is used to support education for girls around the world.

Malala told her story in the best‐selling book I Am Malala. It is published in a young readers' edition called I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World. Both editions are available at the Museum boutique.

High resolution photos of the artifact and the exhibit are available upon request. Video clips are also available (in English only) of Malala speaking about her school uniform, children as changemakers and her Nobel Peace Prize.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. It is the first national museum in Canada to be built outside the National Capital Region. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the Museum creates inspiring encounters with human rights appropriate for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.

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Maureen Fitzhenry