(WNN) United Nations, NEW YORK, AMERICAS: On her 16th birthday bringing a message of hope, courage and fortitude to the world on ‘Malala Day’, Pakistan’s education heroine Malala Yousafzai spoke to youth attending the United Nations using words that cannot be forgotten.
“Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day for every woman; every boy; and every girl who has raised their voice for their rights,” said Yousafzai in a speech that brought her passion for human rights to the core of the message: to bring dignity to those who are dreaming the dream of education for all in a new world.
“The Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought it would silence us, but they failed,” continued Yousafzai. “And out of this silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would silence my aim and stop my ambition but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was borne. Now it’s time to speak up!”
As an often outspoken and courageous advocate for girls rights to education, including science and the humanities, Yousafzai survived an almost deadly injury when she was shot in the head by a gunman while she sat on a school bus on her way home from school in the Swat Valley region of Pakistan. As she was brought into the emergency room unconscious her prognosis was slim. Instead within 4 weeks she was alert, talking and walking in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. In 11 weeks she walked out of the hospital with a good prognosis.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons,” continued Yousafzai what was blamed by the Taliban in Swat Valley for ‘promoting secularism’.
Three months ago in April 2013, UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon formally invited Malala to the United Nations to speak on her 16th birthday. to recognize the importance of Yousafzai’s courage and determination to bring her message to the world.
In addition to Malala Yousafzai, special speakers at the event for ‘Malala Day’ included UN Special Envoy for Global Education former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as well as President of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic, with an introduction to the event by Secretary Ban.
“The wise saying, “The pen is mightier than sword” was true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. And that is why they killed 14 innocent medical students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they killed many female teachers and polio workers in Khyber Pukhtoon Khwa and FATA. That is why they are blasting schools every day. Because they were and they are afraid of change, afraid of the equality that we will bring into our society,” outlined Yousafzai.
Globally, the number of children out of school has fallen from 60 million in 2008 to 57 million in 2011. However, 28 million children out of school live in the world’s conflict zones, and more than half of those are women and girls.
“Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty, injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright peaceful future. So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and 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. Education First.” she added to the UN Youth Assembly that brought nearly 1,000 youth leaders to the UN.
With the current count over 356,450 signatures, along with additional petitions for regions that speak languages other than English, Malala Yousafzai is now spear-heading her petition drive to make education a global priority on Change.org. The petition is called: Stand with Malala: End the Education Emergency.
“Malala chose to mark her 16th birthday with the world,” said UN Secretary Ban during Malala Day at the UN, adding that the girl hero has to date moved millions of people all over the world.
To see Malala Yousafzai speak at the United Nations link HERE
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