Last year the Taliban attempted to forever silence Malala Yousafzai and her plight to educate girls and boys in Pakistan with a shot to the head. Despite the horrific act, Malala survived and is here not only to tell her story, but stands tall as a heroic symbol of resilience in the face of her oppressors.
On Friday, July 12, her 16th birthday, Malala will stand in front of the United Nations’ highest leadership to lead youth advocates from 80 countries in a global rallying cry to demand that the 57 million children worldwide who do not have access to schooling are afforded their human right to education. As Malala speaks on Malala Day, the worldwide day commemorating her heroic work held this Friday, her ardent demand is for the world to decrease the number of children who have no access to education, to zero, by 2015.
In the spirit of global educational reform, Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary General, launched the UN Global Education First Initiative that has effectively gathered world leaders together to work toward equal education for all children. The UN Education First Initiative has shone a much-needed spotlight on Millennium Development Goal 2 that calls for all children to have free access to primary education. The Initiative has elicited greater commitments, investments, ideas, and global implementations to provide increased access to education for children, especially those living in poverty.
Despite the horrific act, Malala survived and is here not only to tell her story, but stands tall as a heroic symbol of resilience in the face of her oppressors.
Based on data provided by the UN Global Education First Initiative rural girls, for example, who live in poverty in 63 countries have a decreased chance of attaining an education. Studies show that girls who are educated marry later and have children later. They are better able to provide for themselves and for their families. One extra year of schooling for girls, according to the Initiative data, provides 10 – 20 percent more earnings in a woman’s lifetime.
Across the board education is a boon to anyone’s lifetime earnings and productivity regardless of where they live. But when educational access becomes an institutional barrier to a better livelihood that is when partners from NGOs, governments, and civil society must unite in order to push for improved educational futures for children.
That is why Malala and the youth delegates who will stand along with her on Malala Day are striving to put education in the forefront of leaders in order to make it a priority on the global agenda moving toward 2015 and beyond.
This Malala Day you can also make your voice heard along with the youths who will convene on the United Nations headquarters this week. You can sign the petition at aworldatschool.org to stand in solidarity with Malala and call for a rectification of this educational emergency. If you are engaged in social media you can also contribute a Vine video to the global education for all campaign like this Vine video Malala sent out to the world.
Visit the #MalalaDay social media hotsheet for ways to use social media to spread the #educationfirst message.