Speaking on her 16th birthday, Malala Yousafzai called for education for every child and told the United Nations that books and pens scare terrorists.
The speech was Malala’s first public address since she was shot last October and she addressed 500 students at a specially convened youth assembly, the BBC reports. She said that the Taliban attack had only made her more determined: “The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
Malala has been credited with bringing the issue of women’s education to global attention and says she is fighting for women’s rights because “they are the ones who suffer the most”. She called on politicians to take urgent action to ensure every child has the right to go to school: “Let us pick up our books and pens,” she said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”
Malala, who may be a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize, presented a petition with over three million signatures to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
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