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Malala Yousafzai is a young education rights campaigner from Pakistan. Malala will soon be celebrating her 16th birthday, a miracle after she was shot by extremists for her outspoken beliefs on education. Malala will celebrate her birthday by traveling to the United Nations where students from more than 80 countries will join her.

Malala and the other young activists will be assembled to call for global education for everyone in the world. She and the other young diplomats believe that education is a right for all – one of the Millennium Development Goals, and a vital component of the path to global citizenship. This belief is well founded in the fact that universal compulsory education represents a future that the world wants. Malala was the first person to sign on to a new worldwide petition calling for urgent action to ensure the right of every child to safely attend school. The petition serves as an initial step in focusing the UN agenda on education.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon supports Malala’s mission to bring education to the world. He states that education is an essential step in a world without poverty, violence, discrimination, and disease. He also recognizes that in order to achieve these objectives, the global society needs to continue pushing forward. The secretary general recognizes that we, as a global society, have made progress on this issue, however, there is much more work to be done. Ban expresses that no child or woman should have to consider going to school as an act of bravery.

Ban states that too many girls around the world are subjected to extremist threats for trying to obtain an education. The benefits of educating women in developing countries have been proven time and time again. Ban explains that when women and girls are educated, a society develops at a more rapid pace than without their education. Additionally, education increases future earnings for women, allowing them to provide their families with additional resources, over time, lifting them out of poverty.

If education is key to empowerment as the path to economic stability and development, why is it so widely contested in many developing countries? The answer lies in fear. If we as a global community continue to fear education for all, we will fail to grow as a global economy. More steps must be taken to ensure each child has access to education.

-Caitlin Zusy
Source: Huffington Post, UN News Center
Photo: Stanford Bookhaven