Malala and Youth Take Over the UN on July 12

July 8, 2013
by Ana Ferman, Education for All Intern

On July 12, youths from around the world will gather together and participate in the first-ever youth takeover of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The youth takeover, a global gathering in honor of Malala Yousafazi, will commemorate Malala’s 16th birthday and is also her first major public appearance since the Taliban’s assassination attempt on her last October. The has deemed this day “Malala Day,” holding the Youth Assembly at the UN as a celebration of her advocacy. An active champion for girls’ education, 15-year-old Malala garnered national attention that registered her as a threat to the Taliban’s edict mandating that no girl attend school.

How You Can Participate in Malala Day

Citizens and youths alike have been raising awareness by writing letters to U.S. Senators, tweeting to government officials “I am Malala,” and drafting  “UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown. Following the assembly, youths will have the opportunity to visit and engage with representatives from the UN and civil society organizations working toward Education for All, including RESULTS. A series of discussions highlighting critical education issues will follow, along with skills-building sessions geared toward increasing grassroot mobilization, online organizing, and advocacy.

Join the advocacy front forming around Malala’s first public address since her attack:

  • Sign A World at School’s petition to stand with Malala in support of freedom of expression and the right of every child to an education.
  • Call on Congress to prioritize education by signing a social media by Facebooking and tweeting with the hashtags #Malaladay and #educationfirst.
  • Check in with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Global Education First Initiative for more details on how to live stream Malala’s speech and the first-ever youth takeover of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

About Malala

Malala first went public with her passion for education in a series of blogs published for BBC Urdu under the pen name “Gul Makai.” Gaining regional recognition for her blog, Malala emerged from anonymity to film a documentary on her life as a Pakistani school girl for The New York Times. Countless interviews for local papers and television stations followed, and through her growing presence in the public, Malala spread awareness about global education and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.

Malala’s increased public presence soon drew various threats from the Taliban that were brutally carried out on October 9th of last year while Malala rode home on a school bus. Her persistent advocacy against extremism, gender discrimination, and global education despite ongoing threats garnered Malala a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize as well as the Nobel Peace Prize.

As one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” Malala continues to advocate for gender equality and global access to education. Meanwhile, her story has mobilized countless youths around the world, bringing Education for All center stage at the UN.

The Importance of Educating Girls

UNESCO estimates that 57 million children around the world remain out of school, 32 million of which are girls. These children are often the victims of human rights abuses, including child labor, child marriage, and child trafficking. And while the struggle for education exists for children of all gender, race, and age, it is undeniable that women and girls around the world are at the forefront of these issues.

The world is finally saying enough is enough as increasing initiatives such as 10×10’s Girl Rising, the Global Partnership to End Child Marriage’s “Girls Not Brides,” and Plan International’s “Because I am a Girl” push such issues to the forefront. Under the banner “The Future is Hers,” the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and others are seeing to it that the 32 million girls out of school have a place to learn — an essential step toward attaining Education for All.

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