"It is a great honor to be able to name an asteroid after Malala. My postdoctoral fellow Dr. Carrie Nugent brought to my attention the fact that although many asteroids have been named, very few have been named to honor the contributions of women [and particularly women of color]," explained Dr. Amy Mainzer, who discovered Asteroid 316201 in 2010.
The asteroid is located in the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter, and orbits the Sun every 5.5 years.
"My advice to young girls is that science and engineering are for everyone! We desperately need the brainpower of all smart people to solve some of humanity's most difficult problems, and we can't afford to reject half the population's. Plus, it is a wonderful feeling to learn about the world around you – it's a job you will fall in love with each day," said Mainzer.
Yousefzai, 17, who is originally from the Swat district in north-west Pakistan and now lives in Birmingham, UK, in 2009 wrote an anonymous online diary documenting life in the area under the rule of the Taliban, who had passed an edict banning girls' education.
In 2012 Yousefzai, who became well-known in Pakistan due to her activism, survived an assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman who shot her in the head as she was traveling home from school. She received treatment in the UK and now attends school in Birmingham, but has continued her campaign for children's rights. The Malala Fund blog, which announced the news of Malala's asteriod on Thursday, aims to "empower girls through education and help them achieve their full potential."wer girls through education and help them achieve their full
Yousefzai became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize when she was given the award jointly with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian child rights campaigner, in October last year. Satyarthi described Yousafzai as "the bravest child we can think of," while Yousafzai said in her speech she was "honored" to receive the prize with Satyarthi and "glad that we can stand together and show the world that an Indian and Pakistani can be united in peace and together work for children's rights."