Norway’s former PM Gro H. Brundtland and Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai awarded the ‘Premi Internacional Catalunya’
Both women have been awarded Catalonia’s most prestigious prize for “their determination and courage in the defence of human rights”. Malala Yousafzai is the young activist in Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban for defending the right to education, particularly for female students. Gro Harlem Brundtland coined the term “sustainable development”, advocated for fighting climate change, was the Director of the World Health Organisation and had the luck to escape from Utoya’s deadly attack. Each year, the ‘Premi Internacional Catalunya’ is given to individuals who have greatly contributed to humankind’s development. Brazil’s former President Lula da Silva, received the prize last year. Other awardees include: Haruki Murakami, Jimmy Carter, Aung San Suu Kyi, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Doris Lessing, Jacques Delors, Amartya Sen and Karl Popper.
Barcelona (ACN).- The 25th ‘Premi Internacional Catalunya’ has been awarded to the former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland and to the young Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai. Both women have been awarded Catalonia’s most prestigious prize for “their determination and courage in the defence of human rights”. Malala Yousafzai is the young teenager who was shot on October 2012 by the Taliban for defending the right to education in Pakistan, particularly for female students, through a BBC blog. Malala survived the attack despite being shot in the head and is now carrying on her studies in Birmingham, continuing to advocate for female education rights. Gro Harlem Brundtland led the Norwegian Government in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She coined the term “sustainable development”, advocated for fighting climate change and was the Director of the World Health Organisation between 1998 and 2003. Furthermore, she had the luck to escape from Utoya’s deadly attack perpetrated by Anders Breivik in July 2011. The jury underlined that both Yousafzai and Brundtland were victims of a terrorist attack for working on what they believed, for working to improve our world. 166 candidates from 54 different countries had been put forward for this year’s edition. Each year, the ‘Premi Internacional Catalunya’ is given by an independent jury formed by prestigious intellectuals to individuals who have greatly contributed to humankind’s development, in a cultural, social, scientific, human or political dimension. It is funded by the Catalan Government and the award ceremony takes place in the second half of the year in Barcelona. In this case, the award ceremony will be held at the Generalitat Palace (the seat of the Catalan Government) on the 26th of July at 7pm (CET). The prize comes with €80,000 and a copy of the sculpture ‘The key and the letter’ by Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies.
Lula da Silva received the 2012 award
Brazil’s former President Lula da Silva, received the prize last year. Other awardees in the prize’s 25 years of history include: Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, United States President Jimmy Carter, Catalan bishop Pere Casaldáliga, French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, US writer Harold Bloom, British writer Doris Lessing, the European Commission’s President Jacques Delors, Indian economist Amartya Sen, French sociologist Edgar Morin, Russian musician Mstislav Rostropovich and British philosopher Karl Popper. The prize has been given to two people on some occasions, such as in 2008 to Myanmar’s Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s doctor and activist Cynthia Maung; in 2004 to Palestine’s philosopher Sari Nusseibeh and Israel’s writer Amos Oz; and in 1995 to the Czech Republic’s President Václav Havel and Germany’s President Richard von Weizsäcker.
The President of the Catalan Government praised Malala’s courage
The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and the Chairman of the jury, Xavier Rubert de Ventós announced the names of this year’s awardees of the ‘Premi Internacional Catalunya’ on Friday. Mas praised “the strength” of Malala Yousafzai (born in Mingora, Pakistan, on the 12th of July, 1997).
Since she was 9, Malala has fought for the right to be schooled, and she was advocating for this human right in her community, “in a difficult context” regarding women’s rights, emphasised the Catalan President. Malala started to write a blog for the BBC, under the pseudonym Gul Makai, criticising the Taliban regime for closing schools and not allowing girls to study. In 2009, Malala and her father appeared in a BBC documentary film in which they denounced how difficult it is for young girls to study in rural Pakistan. On the 9th of October, 2012, a gunman from the militia Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) entered the school bus carrying her. He asked who Malala was and he shot her in the head and neck. Her life could luckily be saved and she was carried to the United Kingdom to undergo surgery. It was not until January 2013 that she was able to leave the hospital and now she is studying in a Birmingham high school.
Mas praised her “courage and bravery”. Malala “risked her life” to promote education rights in Pakistan, he underlined. He also paid homage to the people who, like Malala, “know to dig their heels when it is needed” to defend what they believe in. Mas added that most of the time “they do so alone”.
A prestigious prize awarded by an independent and international jury
The jury unanimously decided to give the prize to Gro H. Brundtland and Malala Yousafzai. The jury is chaired by the Catalan President and the Catalan philosopher, Xavier Rubert de Ventós. It is made up of prestigious professionals from the arts, culture, science and the economy. The members for the 2013 edition are: architect Ricardo Bofill, art critic Juan Manuel Bonet, editor Josep Maria Castellet, historian Agustí Colomines, economist Jacques Delors, soprano Barbara Hendricks, sociologist Edgar Morin, diplomat Ambler Moss, linguist Mary Ann Newman, philosopher Josep Ramoneda, sociologist Richard Sennett, philosopher Gianni Vattimo, biologist Anna Veiga and physician Jorge Wagensberg. Teresa Sala was the secretary.