by Norma Cook Everist, WTS Professor of Church and Ministry
The Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for attending classes, July 12 addressed hundreds of young people at the United Nations, urging them and world leaders to work towards free education for all girls and boys in every nation in the world. She spoke in the name of the world’s religions calling for peace, education, and equality.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world,” Ms. Yousafzai said, in an impassioned address.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had named July 12 – Ms. Yousafzai’s 16th birthday – ‘Malala Day’ in honor of her heroic stand to ensure education for all. The meeting, which featured nearly 1,000 youth leaders, was addressed by former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Global Education.
One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.
Malala, who was shot in the forehead and face, told the gathering that the Taliban’s attack on her nine months ago changed nothing in her life, except that “weakness, fear and hopelessness died.”
“The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens,” she said. “The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.” She urged worldwide action against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism.
This call to action was delivered just as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) Education for All Global Monitoring Report, launched a new policy paper spotlighting that globally, the number of children not allowed or able to attend school has fallen from 60 million in 2008 to 57 million in 2011. However, 28 million children out of school live in the world’s conflict zones, and more than half of those are women and girls.