It’s been almost a year since the Pakistani visionary, MalalaYousafzai was shot by the Taliban for something that is literally taken for granted in many other parts of the world; education for girls! But in Pakistan’s SWAT Valley, education for women is unheard of and is considered anti-Islamic.
Malala was shot in the head by the Islamist Taliban who later took claimed responsibility for the attack and cited that Malala’s views were pro-western and not suited for Islamic women.
The assassination attempt left Malala critically wounded in the head. She was treated in a local hospital in Pakistan, and was later airlifted to a hospital in Britain where doctors repaired the damaged portions of her skull using titanium plates. Forever unable to return safely to her homeland, Malala opted to join a school in Birmingham in England after recovering from the ordeal.
Unlike many other visionaries who chose to retreat behind closed doors after being attacked for their views though, Malala decided to come back stronger and more confident of her aim to make education a must for several children around the world, including the 5 million school dropouts in Pakistan.
On 12th July 2013, the day of her 16th birthday, Malala addressed a large gathering comprising of the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and over 1000 students at the Youth Assembly at the United National headquarters located in New York, USA. The sole aim of Malala’s passionate speech was to urge the world leaders to provide free education for all children as that, she believed, was the only way to change the world for the better and improve lives.
In her speech, Malala quoted as to how the terrorists who shot her would have wanted her to stop her ambitions and change her aims, and how she came back with nothing but more power, strength and courage, diminishing any form of fear, weakness and hopelessness she had felt earlier.
Amidst several cheers from the audience, Malala claimed how the bullets that injured her body paved way for a silence to erupt into thousand voices to advocate basis educational rights to children around the world.
This was her first speech since her attack. But Malala did not hold back or restrain her thoughts as she said “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. 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.I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him.”
By the end of her speech, Malala presented a petition signed by over 4 million people supporting nearly 57 million education deprived children around the world to Ban. The petition urged for world leaders to provide funds for new schools, teachers and books. It also urged world leaders to work actively against child labor, trafficking and marriage. Ban reiterated by saying that the UN would commit to set up a goal that would see all children around the world in school by 2016.
The 12th of July was named ‘Malala Day’, and Ban admired her vision and courage as he said “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. Together, let us follow the lead of this brave young girl, Malala.”
With Malala’s inspiring speech reaching the far corners of the earth, the time has come for humanity to take up a stand on what is right and wrong. Only education can save the earth and its people, and tackle extremists trying to destroy both. As said by Malala herself, “The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.”