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Malala Yousafzai, Kailash Satyarthi Awarded Nobel

FILE - This year's Nobel Peace Prize winners are Indian children's right activist Kailash Satyarthi, left, and Pakistani schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai.

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded jointly to Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and Indian children right's campaigner Kailash Satyarthi.

In announcing the winners Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said the prize was awarded for "their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to an education."

Malala rose to fame after Taliban militants shot her at close range in the head for speaking out against the Islamic extremists and demanding education for girls.

Satyarthi has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the exploitation of children for financial gain. He also has helped develop important international conventions on children’s rights.

Congratulating the winners Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he thought the joint award was "terrific."

"I think the two of them together represent and incredibly appropriate statement about the importance of women and children," said Kerry.

Malala's hometown of Mingora in Pakistan's Swat Valley was infiltrated by militants from Afghanistan more than six years ago and for a time the community was living under the influence of the Pakistani Taliban. The Taliban set up courts, executed residents and closed girls' schools, including the one that Malala attended.

Under a pen name, she began writing a blog about the harsh living conditions under Taliban rule.

On October 9, 2012, Taliban gunmen fired on Malala's school bus, shooting her in the head and neck and wounding two of her classmates.

She was treated in Pakistan and later in Britain, where doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate. She recovered enough to celebrate her 16th birthday last year with a passionate speech at the United Nations in New York, in which she appealed for compulsory free schooling for all children.

Malala told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and nearly 1,000 students attending an international Youth Assembly at U.N. headquarters that education was the only way to improve lives.

"Let us pick up our books and our pens," she said. "They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”

Malala has gone on to make several public appearances and has received a number of honors. In September 2013, she was given the Clinton Global Citizens Awards at a ceremony in New York.

Material from Reuters was used in this report.