Saturday, April 06, 2013

Gender Issues: Ban speaks to Malala, attacked Pakistani schoolgirl, to stress education and women’s rights

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks by Skype with Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani champion of the right of girls to have an education. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

UN - 5 April 2013 – “I can walk. I can talk. I can do anything!” said Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, in a conversation with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on education and gender equality in the 1,000 day run-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline.

In a Skype conversation from Madrid, the Secretary-General called the 14-year-old who was attacked by the Taliban for opposing restrictions on going to school “a symbol of hope, a daughter of the United Nations.”

Later today Mr. Ban will formally kick off the campaign tagged “MDG Momentum – 1,000 Days of Action,” urging countries to ramp up efforts to meet the anti-poverty targets set in 2000.

“The UN will always be with you and the many people like you,” he told Malala.

Ms. Yousufzai told Mr. Ban that she volunteered herself to work for the rights of girls and the rights of all people.

“When we work together we can achieve our goal and our goal is simple: peace and happiness in this world. The way to see peace is through education. It is an honour for me to be associated with the UN. I want to tell the world how important education is.”

She added that she wants to be a leader and “to serve this whole world.”

Ms. Yousufzai was shot in the head and neck on 9 October 2012 for opposing Pakistani Taliban restrictions on female education as she left school in Mingora, in the Swat area of Pakistan. Two other girls were also wounded.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the youngster was “pro-West,” had been promoting Western culture and had been speaking out against them.

“If we educate a woman, we educate a family, a community and a country,” Mr. Ban told Ms. Yousufzai.

He told the youngster that he was “deeply impressed” and looked forward to meeting her.

Also today, Mr. Ban called for accelerated action in the next 1,000 days from governments, international organizations and civil society groups to reach the MDGs by their deadline at the end of 2015.

The eight time-bound MDGs address education, gender equality, poverty and hunger, child mortality, maternal health, combating AIDS, malaria and other diseases, environmental sustainability and a global partnership for development.