A noted peace campaigner, 16-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai took the stand at the United Nations last Friday. Yousafzai who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year courageously spoke about educational reform.
“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,” the girl said passionately to the UN Youth Assembly.
Last October, the teen was critically shot by Taliban insurgents as she was leaving her school. While she was seriously injured, Yousafzai was not deterred , as she restarted her campaign after her difficult recovery
“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born,” she added. “I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child.”
To emphasize her point, the teen presented U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Yousafzai with a petition signed by over 4 million people in support of millions of children around the world who are unable to attend school.
“No child should have to die for going to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn. Together, we can change this picture,” Ban responded. “Together, let us follow the lead of this brave young girl, Malala.”
“The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women,” Yousafzai also emphasized. “When we were in Swat … we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.”
The U.N. has declared July 12 – her 16th birthday – as “Malala Day.”