Jul 122013

Malala Addresses UN on her 16th Birthday


malala_yousafzai.jpg.size.xxlarge.promo“Let us pick up our books and pens.  They are our most powerful weapons.  One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.  Education is the only solution.”

An estimated five hundred students from around the world listened to these words as they joined Malal at the United Nations building in New York.  She addressed her words to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who was in attendance.

Speaking in a clear, strong voice and wearing a shawl that belonged to Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated by militants in 2007, Malala accused the Taliban of being “afraid of women.”  “They think that God is a tiny little conservative being who would send girls to hell just because of going to school,” she said.  She went on to say that “I want education for the sons and daughters of all the extremists especially the Taliban,” she said to a hushed room listening intently to her every word. “I do not even hate the Talib who shot me.”

Malala presented a petition signed by 3 million to the UN secretary general demanding that world leaders fund books, schools, and teachers so every child can receive an education.

Friday’s event was organized by Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister and UN Special Envoy for Global Education. Speaking before Malala took the podium, he said the day was not just a celebration of her birthday, but a “celebration of what you yourself have called your second life.” “Happy 16th birthday, Malala,” he told her, noting these were words the “Taliban never wanted you to hear.”

Malala will complete her education in Birmingham, England.  The Taliban has vowed to kill her if she returns to Pakistan. Her father, a school principal, proudly watched his daughter.  He has taken a job as an advisor to Gordon Brown.  We know that Malala and her supporters are a force to be reckoned with, and we know this is not the last we have seen or heard from them.

Back in Pakistan, the country has joined the UN in naming July 12 as “Malala Day” with educational gatherings and seminars.

Happy birthday, Malala.  The world celebrates with you.

Footnote from Diya Nijhowne (Director of Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack).

The United Nations estimates that 57 million children of primary school age do not get an education — half of them in countries at conflict like Syria. “Students and teachers across our globe are intimidated and harassed, injured, raped, and even killed. Schools are burned, bombed, and destroyed,” said Diya Nijhowne, director of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack. Nijhowne highlighted a horrific attack in northern Nigeria last week.

Gunmen from the Boko Haram Islamist group  — whose name literally means “Western education is a sin” — broke into a secondary boarding school in Nigeria and killed 41 students and one teacher before setting fire to the building.

According to U.N Secretary General Ban’s annual report on children and conflict, 115 schools were attacked last year in Mali, 321 in the occupied Palestinian territory, 167 in Afghanistan and 165 in Yemen.

Pakistan has an estimated five million children out of school and Nigeria 10 million, according to UN estimates.

AHORE/ISLAMABAD: The 16th birthday of Malala Yousufzai will be observed as Malala Day on Friday (today) in Lahore with gatherings from the civil society, human rights organisations and other institutions to mark the day.

Seminars, conferences and other ceremonies would be held wherein scholars, educationists and analysts would participate and pay tribute to Malala who fought for the girl’s education in Swat city of Pakistan against Taliban.

In connection to birthday of Malala Yousufzai, United Nations (UN) has announced to mark Malala Day as UN Youth Assembly coincides with her birthday. In support of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, international youth leaders’ conference will be convened at the UN headquarters and in cities around the world in support of reaching the goal of having all children, especially girls, in schools by 2015. The concluding resolution of the Youth Assembly will urge governments, and concerned authorities to take decision for provision of education to every child.

 Leave a Reply