Schoolgirl shot by Taliban gives powerful speech to UN
Malala Yousafzai (16) addresses delegates as ‘one girl among many’ fighting for rights
Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls education who was shot in the head by the Taliban, speaks at the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York today. The United Nations has declared July 12th ‘Malala Day’. Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images
A Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for championing the rights to women’s education has told the United Nations there are “thousands” across the world like her struggling for the same cause.
Malala Yousafzai, who has been recovering in the UK from last year’s attack, told the youth assembly in New York: “Thousands of people have been killed by terrorists and millions injured — I am just one of them.”
Today is Malala’s 16th birthday — declared Malala Day — and the teenager’s speech to more than 500 delegates at the UN’s headquarters was her first public address.
As she took to the dais, there was a standing ovation and cheers of delight for the young girl who cheated an assassin’s bullet when she was shot in the head during an attack on her school bus in the north-western Swat Valley last year.
She said: “Malala Day is not my day — today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.
“There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not speaking for their rights but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality.
“Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions injured — I am just one of them.”
Speaking of the attempt on her life, she added: “On the 9th October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead and they shot friends too.
“They thought that the bullet would silence us — but they failed.
“Out of that silence came thousands of voices.
“The terrorists thought they would change my aim and stop my ambitions.
“But nothing changed except this weakness, fear and helplessness died, and strength, power and courage was born.”
She said she was speaking to delegates, including hundreds of young people from more than 80 countries, as “one girl among many”.
“I speak not for myself but so those without voice can be heard
“Those who have fought for their rights; their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.”
She said the attack had not only inspired to work harder for women’s rights, but had taught her compassion, saying: “I am the same Malala, my ambitions are the same.
“My hopes are the same and my dreams are the same.
“Dear sisters and brothers I am not against anyone, neither am I hear to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban nor any other terrorist group.
“I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child.
“I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all those terrorists and extremists.
“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.
“This is the compassion that I have learned from Muhammad, the prophet of mercy, and Jesus Christ.
“This is the legacy of change that I have inherited from Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.”