Malala Yousafzai rose to international recognition when she and her classmates were shot by the Taliban when they attempted to go to school in Pakistan. She has been voted one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine and now she is going to visit the UN on Friday, July 12th to tell her story and raise awareness of global education.

Yousafzai was only 15 when members of the Taliban shot her and her friends while they were taking the bus to school after all schools for girls were shut down in Pakistan. They wanted to teach her a lesson and show everyone else what would happen if they dared to stand up for themselves. The gunmen targeterd her because she was not just a school girl, she was also the voice of her generation as a blogger about the injustices they suffered under the hand of the Taliban.

Since the incident, Yousafzai has returned to school and has even been reunited with some of her old friends. She was the first to sign the UN Special Envoy for Education petition urging immediate action to make sure every child receives an education, and for her actions she was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.  November 10th is known as Malala Day and it is clear that she is not only one of the most well-known students in the world, but one of the most potent as well.

The United Nations will be holding a youth assembly dubbed Malala Day this Friday, giving young people the chance to run the UN for the day. Yousafzai will be joined by hundreds of other students from over 80 countries for this event. Each one will tell their story and try to bring international attention to the pressing need of education. There are around 57 million children missing out on a primary education, as well as over 120 million teens and young adults without basic reading and writing skills. Without an education, these children will be incapable of getting jobs into today’s changing world market when they become adults. Therefore they will continue to live in poverty and feed the cycle of poverty.

The Secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, has started the Global Education First Initiative. The main goals of the initiative are to get every child in school, provide a safe learning environment for students, and improve the quality of education. In a op-ed piece about Malala’s impending visit with Huffington Post he stated, “We must do all we can to ensure that schools are safe and secure learning spaces. Nowhere in the world should it be an act of bravery for an adult to teach or a girl to go to school.” He believes that in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals and prepare for their deadline in 2015, we must focus on the importance of a good education.

The youth assembly will hopefully bring attention to the fact that education is a fundamental right that should be awarded to everyone. Opportunity and lifestyle will only begin to be equal once every woman, man, and child has the same access to learning, and therefore the same access to jobs.

– Chelsea Evans

Source: Huffington Post, UN News Center, Time Magazine, Global Education First Initiative
Photo: SCMP