Malala defies Taliban to take world stage

Malala Yousafzai took over the UN, nine months after a Taliban gunman put a bullet in her head

  • Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai speaks before the United Nations Youth Assembly July 12, 2013 at UN headqua Image Credit: AFP
  • Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai is greeted by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (2nd L), Vuk Jer Image Credit: AFP

UNITED NATIONS: Malala Yousafzai took over the United Nations on Friday, nine months after a Taliban gunman put a bullet in her head believing he was ending the Pakistani teenager's campaign for girls' education.

The girl will mark her 16th birthday with her first public speech since making a near miraculous recovery from the attack on a school bus near her home in Pakistan's Swat Valley.

Doctors had to place a titanium plate over the hole in her skull and her hearing has been badly affected. But Malala has become a global superstar and a favourite to become the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.

She has already been named as one of Time magazine's most influential people in 2013 and has reportedly secured a $3 million contract for a book on her life story.

"This frail young girl who was seriously injured has become such a powerful symbol not just for the girls' right to education, but for the demand that we do something about it immediately," said former British prime minister Gordon Brown, UN envoy on education who organized World Malala Day.

"There will be no compromise with any religious extremist who says girls should not go to school or stop going to school at 10," Brown told CBS News.

Malala is expected to use her speech at a UN youth assembly to lecture UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and any listening world leaders on the need to keep a promise to provide universal primary education by the end of 2015.

She will also hand over a petition to Ban signed by more than 330,000 people calling on the 193 UN member states to finance teachers, schools and books to meet the education goal.

"From the day that terrible shooting - assassination attempt - took place, Malala Yousafzai is a symbol for the rights of girls, and indeed the rights of all young people, to an education," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

"And she has further underscored that symbolism through her remarkable recovery and her eloquence in explaining her case and her position," Ban's spokesman added.

The Taliban made it clear that the aim of the shooting was to let the world know that girls have no right to equality at school.
Now, more girls than ever before are attending schools in the Swat Valley.

But the United Nations estimates that 57 million children of primary school age do not get an education - half of them in countries at conflict like Syria.

"Students and teachers across our globe are intimidated and harassed, injured, raped, and even killed. Schools are burned, bombed, and destroyed," said Diya Nijhowne, director of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack.

Nijhowne highlighted a horrific attack in northern Nigeria last week.
Gunmen from the Boko Haram Islamist group - whose name literally means "Western education is a sin" - broke into a secondary boarding school and killed 41 students and one teacher before setting fire to the building.

According to Ban's annual report on children and conflict, 115 schools were attacked last year in Mali, 321 in the occupied Palestinian territory, 167 in Afghanistan and 165 in Yemen.

Schools were also a regular target in Pakistan when Malala started a diary at the age of 11, written under the pseudonym of Gul Makai, the name of a Pashtun heroine, that was published on BBC Urdu.

The young girl built up a worldwide following of supporters as she told of the anxiety she and friends felt as they saw students dropping out for fear of being targeted by militants. Girls also refused to wear uniforms to school in case militants saw them.
Malala and her family briefly left Swat during a government offensive on the Taliban controlled territory.

On their return, they were the subject of threats by militants before the attack on October 9 last year.

The family now live in Birmingham, England where the girl has undergone surgery and rehabilitation. The Taliban said it shot Malala because of her efforts to promote "secular education" and have made it clear she remains a target.


  • Muhammad

    Jul 13, 2013 5:09

    May Allah succeed her in the efforts of bringing peace and education in Pakistan. And as all are saying there are thousands and millions who are dying of Hunger like in Syria and Africa, but she is making effort and increasing attention of the world to all the suffering children all over the world.

  • Sofia

    Jul 13, 2013 2:50

    There are thousands of Malala's out there in Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. please there are hundreds and thousands of children dying of hunger all across the world. Thousands of children have died in these so called peace wars, thousands have been raped. thousands have become orphans. So? what about those. Media should focus on other important things happening around too.

  • Sarah Louise

    Jul 13, 2013 1:53

    I'm sure I am going to be pelted with eggs and rotten fruit here, whilst it's brilliant that this young lady has made a remarkable recovery from her horrific experience, I just find it a little hard to take her seriously now "campaigning" for the rights of girls and women in Pakistan from the relative safety of her government housing in the UK - and from the top end security of the United Nations! As one person on here has already mentioned, she is a media superstar now and I'm sure will be having tea with the Prime Minister at Downing Street before long. All we see is talk, and no action - on all of the appalling human rights atrocities happening all across the world before our very eyes :( Action is needed now, to stop the bloodshed in Syria, and many, many other critical situations innocent people everywhere are finding themselves in.


    Jul 13, 2013 12:40

    Almost each day such a cases are coming in Pakisan, but to focus only on malala isn't fair, the amount she got from time magazine (3million), and from other sources why it's not spend on education or poor people of the world, coz people are not getting food.

  • ather ahmed

    Jul 13, 2013 11:48

    All of us have made her a superstar. Thanks to the media. I just wanted to say that she has made up her journey to success. She has got everything now. Let's focus on the children of Syria, Africa and other poor countries who have been raped,murdered,tortured.,etc. I hope that GN will bring up such issued so that the society can contribute its best. Best Regards.

  • khaled amir

    Jul 13, 2013 11:03

    I salute you. best of luck.

  • Said

    Jul 13, 2013 10:21

    Its all very nice that this girl has taken a stand however i feel there are more other important issues in their country that ought to be dealt with more strictly like the law on blasphemy. Lives are being ruined due to this law which ought to be totally abolished.

Latest Comment

May Allah succeed her in the efforts of bringing peace and education in Pakistan. And as all are saying there are thousands and millions who are dying of Hunger like in Syria and Africa, but she is making effort and increasing attention of the world to all the suffering children all over the world.


13 July 2013 17:38 jump to comments