And the Person of the Year 2013 Is…

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Last week we asked you who you thought was the Person of the Year in 2013. writer Erik created a shortlist of eight names and we asked you to vote. The response was great and there were two clear frontrunners from the very beginning. On the very final day of voting, Angela Merkel was just pipped to the post by our winner... Malala Yousafzai.

Here Erik Redli takes a look at the very worthy winner.

Malala Yousafzai: Person of the Year 2013

Most kids would probably prefer it if the government banned school and some wouldn't even mind too much if the buildings exploded. Last year, a 15-years old student in Tennessee even set his teacher on fire. Most pupils don't recognize the value of compulsory, free education. Actually, school should not teach, but show how to learn.

On 9th October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan. Civilians are targets of the Islamist radicals on a daily basis. But this was a planned assassination attempt. She became a pin in the eye of the Taliban. Why? The barely 16-year-old girl openly stood up for girls' right to education. In a country with strictly defined gender roles, education is one of the things that can help women to avoid the role of servant to their fathers and later their husbands.

After intimidating messages on social media networks, the Taliban ordered the assassination of Malala. Thankfully, after undergoing special treatment in the UK she survived.

The assassination attempt was met with denouncement and sympathy all around the world, even at the political forum. Her example launched a campaign which should provide school education for every child by 2015. Currently, it is hard to say whether these intentions are real or just surface acting. Nevertheless, Malala is likely to be a role model for girls all around the world as well as a strong argument in the fight for gender equality in certain Arabic countries.

In November 2013 Malala was bestowed the Sakharov prize, awarded to those who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights. And now she has also won the (equally prestigious) personality of the year, by just one vote more than Angela Merkel. But that's history.

One week ago, another teenager from Pakistan made headlines, unfortunately, in the obituaries. Aitizaz Hasan held up a bomber who wanted to attack a school in Hangu, Pakistan with 2,000 children inside. The bomber detonated the bomb outside, killing only Aitizaz. His father, although hit by loss, revelled in the bravery of his son: "My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children". Reportedly, Aitizaz was sent to stand outside as a punishment for his late arrival.

If only all the children who would celebrate if school was banned became such heroes one day. Though Malala's efforts are taking things in the right direction, there is still a long way to go.

Erik Redli is a university graduate from Slovakia who lived in London for much of his graduate life. Read more of his posts here.

2013 Person of the Year Results

You can see the full results of the poll here:

  1. Malala Yousafzai 21%
  2. Angela Merkel 20% 
  3. Pope Francis 17% 
  4. Edward Snowden 13% 
  5. Drummer Lee Rigby 12% 
  6. Kate Middleton 10% 
  7. Steve Ballmer 7% 
  8. Keith Richards 1%

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