Politicians have said it, world leaders have confirmed it and everyone knows it for sure: children are the future of this world. Parents take it upon themselves to bring to the world people that will change the world but many never really know their children’s true potential until said children take them by surprise and find themselves giving a speech before the UN general assembly and hoping that by 2015 no child would go without an education. It’s also her sixteenth birthday that same day.
Young Malala Yousafzai was only 12 years old when she began advocating for children’s education, her anonymous blog Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl took the world by storm when the BBC covered it and posted it on their website. Within the lines of this blog, Malala discussed the difficulties she and her fellow classmates were facing because the Taliban’s ban on girls going to school. Many schools were blown up and destroyed in order to impose the ban; although the country has attempted to safeguard those schools children still feared to go to school in the morning and particularly girls who are thought to be only meant for the household and childrearing. An excerpt of her diary shows the sadness felt among the girls who seem to know the inevitable fact that they would be denied their basic right to an education:
“This time round, the girls were not too excited about vacations because they knew if the Taleban implemented their edict they would not be able to come to school again. Some girls were optimistic that the schools would reopen in February but others said that their parents had decided to shift from Swat and go to other cities for the sake of their education.”
Three years later, at the age of 15 years old, Yousafzai was on her way to school one morning when the Taliban climbed onto her bus and opened fire. They shot her in the head causing her skull to fracture. This accident only pushed her activist tendencies further when she realized that nothing would stop her from getting an education and how essential this was particularly for young girls. Throughout her plight for children’s education she has been on the front page of the New York Times and has been the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.
On July 12th 2013, Malala represented children across the world when she spoke before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and presented him with a petition to tackle the education emergency and ensure that every child has a chance to get an education and reach their fullest potential. In what the UN has dubbed the first ever youth takeover of the United Nations, Malala comes joined by 650 other youth delegates who’s goal is to ensure that by 2015, the 57 million children who do not have access to education will be recounted to zero.
Yousafzai’s statement was “On 15 June, fourteen girls were murdered in Pakistan simply because they wanted an education. Many people know my story but there are stories every day of children fighting for an education.
'The basic right to education is under attack around the world. We need change now and I need your help to achieve it. You can help me and girls and boys across the world. We are asking the United Nations General Assembly to fund new teachers, schools, books and recommit to getting every girl and boy in school by December 2015.”
In her speech, this young girl shows a level of eloquence that many world leaders can learn from. She discusses the issues with passion and a conviction that causes her listeners to give her a standing ovation at the end of her speech. She demands peace and tranquility and the right to an education for all children. Through the pursuit of an education, woman particularly will be independent and capable of achieving great things. She thanks her supporters for the love they showed her and goes on to state that she holds no grudges against the Taliban. Inspired by prominent figures such an Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, and Benazir Bhutto, this young woman speaks before a full house in the UN general assembly advocating her petition and demanding the rights of the children she represents.
It’s inspiring to see what young people are capable of once they know they have it in themselves to achieve their goals. The world is excited as we wait and see the number drop to zero and education become a right to each and every child out there. One can only imagine what the world will look like when Malala Yousafzai achieves her goal.
The speech at the UN:
Malala’s online petition: