Malala celebrated her 16th birthday today by telling the UN that education could change the world.
“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution,” a confident Yousafzai said to cheers from the podium.
The Taliban tried to stop her last October but, for once, they failed.
“They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed and out of that silence came thousands of voices,” she said in Friday’s speech.
“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,” Yousafzai said.
She wore a white shawl draped around her shoulders that had belonged to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated during a 2007 election rally weeks after she returned to Pakistan from years in self-imposed exile.
“I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child,” she said.
“I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists,” she said. “I do not even hate the talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him.”
She would rather send his daughters and sons to school.
Yousafzai presented Ban with a petition signed by some 4 million people in support of 57 million children around the world who are not able to go to school. It demanded that world leaders fund new teachers, schools and books and end child labor, marriage and trafficking.
Let’s do those things.