Malala’s photograph unveiled at National Gallery in London

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LOONDON: Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai says she hopes her image will serve as an inspiration for girls “fighting for change” as a photograph of the girls’ education activist was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery.

The portrait is on display alongside some of the world’s most famous names.

The new photograph was taken by Iranian-born artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat, who has inscribed on top of the image a poem about the 21-year-old.

Neshat’s other photograph of Yousafzai, who was shot in 2012 by Taliban militants who tried to kill her for promoting girls’ education, shows her seated at a school desk with an open book.

That image will be unveiled when it travels to Birmingham Museums as part of a new initiative which will see 50 portraits from the gallery’s collection go to places across the UK they are closely associated with.

Malala Yousafzai said: “I am honoured to have my portrait included in the National Portrait Gallery alongside some of Britain’s most influential writers, artists and leaders. “I hope it will remind visitors that girls everywhere are fighting for change in their communities and countries – their stories must also be heard.”

National Portrait Gallery director Dr Nicholas Cullinan said: “We are delighted to have commissioned these powerful new portraits, which represent an historic coming together of an inspirational and fearless young woman, who has had a profound impact on the education and welfare of girls throughout the world, with a leading international artist known for her unique and pioneering work.”

Artist Neshat said of the Nobel Peace Prize winner: “It was impossible not to feel intimidated … Yet as she arrived at the studio to be photographed, I was immediately taken aback by her timid, gentle and innocent demeanour.”

Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, announced the news on Twitter that the portrait of his daughter by Shirin Nishat has a poem inscribed on it which is written by Pushto poet Rahmat Shah Sayel.

“We are grateful to the artist for creating this wonderful piece of art depicting strength, resilience and courage,” he wrote.