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Malala Yousafzai champions the cause of girls’ education

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 4 October 2022


Malala speaking at the UN General Assembly (Photo Supplied)

The UN Assembly this year saw an impressive line-up of Southeast Asian speakers.

A speech that has definitely stood out was by Youth Activist Malala Yousafzai.

Malala started her address with a powerful note.

She said, “Seven years ago I stood on this platform hoping that the voice of a teenage girl who took a bullet for standing up for her education would be heard. On that day, leaders, corporations, civil society – all of us – committed to working together to see every child in school by 2030. Yet halfway to that target date, we are facing an education emergency.” Vanessa Nakate, Somaya Faruqi, Malala Yousafzai, Yelizaveta Posivnych at UN Transforming Education Summit 2022 (Photo Supplied)

Education Emergency

Malala reminded the World in her address how in present-day Afghanistan, the Taliban have banned girls from learning. In Uganda and Pakistan, droughts and floods are ravaging homes much like the one she grew up in. And conflict and violence in Ethiopia, Ukraine and other countries are keeping girls out of the classroom.

She then addressed the Assembly and said that in order to be serious about creating a safe and sustainable world for children, the world needs to be serious about education.

Malala reminded the audience, captivated by her will to make a change, about how education transforms lives, strengthens economies and contributes to a more peaceful world and how every country, community and corporation would benefit from every girl having access to free, safe, quality education.

Closing the funding gap

She insisted that the need of the hour was to move beyond the short-term and commit to upholding the right to complete education and close the funding gap once and for all.

Malala also commented that high-income countries are in the position to increase aid, cancel debts and set fair global tax rules so that low-income countries can spend more on girls’ education.

Some very valid arguments around removing gender bias from curricula, improving content and Making schools safe for girls were also made in her address.

About Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a Co-Founder and Board Member of the Malala Fund. Malala began her campaign for education at age 11 when she anonymously blogged for the BBC about life under the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Inspired by her father’s activism, Malala soon began advocating publicly for girls’ education — attracting international media attention and awards.

At 15, she was shot by the Taliban for speaking out. Malala recovered in the United Kingdom and continued her fight for girls. In 2013 she founded Malala Fund with her father, Ziauddin. A year later, she received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts to see every girl complete 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

Malala Yousafzai: Youth Activist & Leader (Photo Supplied)

Malala graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.

Today, the Malala Fund works in countries like Afghanistan, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan & Turkey advocating the Right to Education, with a special emphasis on Girl Education.

We are all a part of this story.

Education has been at the centre of many discussions recently in New Zealand as well.

In the Waikato region, there are 7347 registered teachers as per the 2021 statistics for a student roll of 75,723 students (Source: Education Counts statistics).

Low attendance worrying

The current issue surrounding New Zealand is that of low attendance levels, with as little as 40.9%- 54.6% of students attending school regularly in lower decile schools. (Source: figure.nz)

Being part of the Global village, it is voices like Malala’s that connect and resonate with many young people across New Zealand who want to be heard and are looking for solutions. Just like Malala Yousafzai, there are millions of young people around the world who have written demands in the UN Youth Declaration on transforming education.

Praneeta Mahajan is our Waikato Reporter based in Hamilton.

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