Malala Day inspires youth around the world to demand their right to education
NEW YORK-KIGALI, 12 July 2013 – Hundreds of young people take over the seats at the United Nations today to add to their voices to courageous advocate Malala Yousafzai’s call to see all children in school and learning.
Malala marks her 16th birthday today at the United Nations with her first public speech to the assembled youngsters, asking them to hold their leaders accountable to the promise of universal primary education for all by 2015.
UNICEF is welcoming more than 500 young people from over 85 countries to be part of this momentous day – now called Malala Day – to underline the right to a quality education even in the most difficult circumstances.
“Malala is an inspiration to millions,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Her bravery and determination mirror that of the girls and boys around the world risking their lives every day as they pursue their right to an education. Last week’s attack on a boarding school in Northeast Nigeria ― which killed at least 29 students and a teacher ― is a vivid example. As we listen to Malala at the United Nations, we will not only celebrate her brave example, we will also rededicate ourselves to supporting every child’s right to learn and build a future in peace and safety.”
While access to education should not be constrained by borders, income, disability, gender or ideology, girls are still disproportionately disadvantaged by a lack of educational opportunities – a situation usually aggravated in conflict situations.
Today, Malala has delivered a petition to the UN Secretary-General, demanding on behalf of all young people, that world leaders agree to fund new teachers, schools and books and to end child labour, child marriage and child trafficking. Malala herself almost lost her life nine months ago when gunmen boarded a school bus and shot her and two other girls.
Learn more about girls’ education in Rwanda and UNICEF work in this area in the photo essay.