Malala, the Pakistani teenage girl who got shot by the Taliban while on her way to school in October last year, marked her 16th birthday with a speech to the UN youth assembly New York last week, Friday.
At the special UN session on July 12, 2013, on what is now known as “Malala Day“, she called for free and compulsory education for children worldwide.
The teenage girl, already an advocate for children’s education and women’s empowerment around the world, believes governments should focus more on women’s rights and girls’ education because they suffer the most.
“There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves,” she said.
She was quick however, to mention that while men should not ‘to step away from speaking for women’s rights’, women should stand up for themselves, independent and able to fight for their rights.
Her speech touched in-depth on children and women’s rights; and called for a campaign to educate millions of children who are out of school due to poverty or political conflicts.
She urged governments and world leaders to help the more than 50 million children who today cannot go to school due to difficult circumstances.
“So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women and children’s rights.
“A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable,” Malala warned.
Malala also had a message for the Taliban. The attempted murder had not silenced her; instead it made her ambitions stronger.
“They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed,” she said.
She added that she doesn’t seek revenge against the Taliban, and that she’s against no one.
“I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child.
“I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists, especially the Taliban,” she said.
Malala fled to the United Kingdom with her family after an attempted assassination by the Taliban in Pakistan. Her treatment and recovery took months; and it included reconstructive surgery to restore her disfigured face.
- ‘Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons’ | Malala Yousafzai (guardian.co.uk)
- Malala Yousafzai Addressing U.N. on 16th Birthday (newsy.com)