Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for attending classes, at the United Nations on Friday, July 12, 2013. (Hayden Roger Celestin)
News Americas, UNITED NATIONS, NY, Fri. July 12, 2013: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for attending classes, today addressed hundreds of young people at the United Nations, urging them to use education as a weapon against extremism.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world,” Yousafzai said, in an impassioned address to the UN Youth Assembly.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has dubbed – Yousafzai’s 16th birthday – ‘Malala Day’ in honour of her heroic stand to ensure education for all. The meeting, which featurednearly 1,000 youth leaders, was addressed by former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Vuk Jeremić, President of the General Assembly, and Ahmad Alhendawi, the Special Envoy on Youth.
Yousafzai told the gathering that the Taliban’s attack nine months ago changed nothing in her life, except that “weakness, fear and hopelessness died.”
“The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens,” she said. “The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.” Urging worldwide action against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, she said: “Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”
This call to action was delivered just as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) Education for All Global Monitoring Report, launched a new policy paper spotlighting that 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.