On her 16th birthday, the Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai addressed a special UN youth assembly and urged the world leaders to ensure the right to education for all children. Malala appeared publicly for the first time since October 2012 when she was shot in the head by Taliban extremists while on her way to school due to her passionate campaigning for girls’ rights. After the shooting, she was brought to the UK to receive treatment and currently lives in Birmingham in England.
In her speech at the UN, Malala said her attackers failed to stop her in her fight for girls’ right to education, adding that they have made her even more determined to continue with the campaigning. She told the UN assembly that education is the strongest weapon against the extremists.
Malala who was wearing a pink shawl of the Pakistani stateswomen and politician Benazir Bhutto (assassinated in 2007) continued that she wants education for every boy and girl, including children of the Talibans as well as children of extremists and terrorists. She concluded her speech with a call to the world leaders to ensure education for all children, adding that education must come first and that education is the only way to change the world. Malala also presented a petition that was signed by over 3 million people to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, demanding the right to go to school for every child.
The former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (now acting as the UN Special Envoy for Global Education) who opened the special UN session told the assembly of 500 young people aged from 12 to 25 that they are the “new superpower” and called them to help the efforts to ensure education for all children worldwide. He said that with a joint effort, getting every boy and girl to school by year 2015 is possible, adding that Malala and other young people who are fighting for the right to eduction think that it’s possible too.
According to children’s charity organizations UNESCO and Save the Children, access to education remains a major issue, especially for young women as primary school hasn’t been completed by an estimated 25 percent of girls around the world. The charity organizations also highlighted the issue of women’s education in Malala’s native Pakistan which is among the countries with the lowest rates of both girls’ enrollment in school and female literacy as well as government funding of education.
Malala Yousafzai Continues Her Campaign for Girls’ Rights.
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