Malala Yousafzai met with world leaders and youth advocates at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
Can you imagine being only 16 years old and having the attention of the entire world? That’s what has happened to Malala Yousafzai (yoo•SUHF•zy), a women’s rights activist from Pakistan. People around the world are listening to her calls for improving education for girls.
In some countries, girls do not have the same right or access to education that boys have. Because of this, about two-thirds of the world’s children who do not attend school are girls. Malala is working to change that. Recently, she had meetings with President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II of Britain to share her ideas about promoting girls’ education throughout the world.
When Malala was only 14 years old, she started receiving death threats from the Taliban for speaking out about girls’ right to education. In some areas of Pakistan, the militant group had forced schools that educated girls to close. On October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman shot and badly wounded Malala on a school bus near her home in Mingora, Pakistan. She was flown to Britain for surgery and recovered in a hospital there. She says that being attacked by the Taliban has only strengthened her purpose and determination.
On July 12, 2013, Malala gave a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. It was her sixteenth birthday and the first time she had spoken publicly since being attacked by the Taliban. In her speech, she called on world leaders to make sure that every child has the opportunity to go to school. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Malala a “hero” and a “champion.”
Earlier this year, Malala was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize, and many people expected her to win. The winners were announced on October 11. Malala did not win, but the nomination helped boost her campaign for girls’ education. She did, however, win the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. It is the European Union’s top human rights award.
When Malala was younger, she wanted to be a doctor. Now, she wants to get into politics and maybe run for prime minister of Pakistan one day. That way, she can help not only her community, but also her entire country. Malala also enjoys writing. She has written a book about her life called I Am Malala. Published in October, it is already a best seller that is inspiring readers around the world.