Pakistani teenager, Malala Yousufzai, made a passionate plea to world leaders to ensure the education of children, especially girls, as the United Nations marked her birthday by declaring July 12 as Malala Day. Malala sprang to global prominence after she was shot by Taliban gunmen who wanted to prevent girls from going to school. She has since recovered and through her courage has become a symbol of opposition to extremism and the international campaign for education for girls.
The UAE assisted in her medical treatment and has hailed her work to promote equal education and rights for girls, tolerance and the empowerment of women. In her speech, Malala pointed out that “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. That is why they are blasting schools everyday”. She added that she wanted education for the sons and daughters of extremists.
World leaders must urgently take up her call to ensure education — the most sustainable way of overcoming extremism — for all who need it. There is reason to be confident that the desire for education will triumph with the necessary support and goodwill. According to reports, there has been an influx of girls into schools in the Swat valley, where Malala was shot, as the influence of the Taliban recedes and awareness grows that women must also receive education. It is the courage and steadfast determination of these girls that will make education for women a reality.