Malala Delivers A Powerful Message To World Leaders

Photo: Mike Coppola/FilmMagic.
Malala Yousafzai, pictured in blue, speaks at the United Nations on Friday.
The pope is a hard act to follow, but Malala Yousafzai used power in numbers at the United Nations to deliver a message that was hard to miss. Flanked by 193 young people holding lanterns, Yousafzai urged world leaders to "promise that every child will have the right to safe, free, and quality primary and secondary education." "Education is not a privilege, education is a right," she said. "Education is peace." After advocating for educational access for girls in her home country of Pakistan, Yousafzai became one of the world's most recognizable activists. It also made her the target of an attack by the Taliban. The teen, who was recognized with a Nobel Prize in 2014, founded the Malala Fund to further her goal of educating children around the world. Friday's renewed call for 12 years of educational access for every child was meant to coincide with the adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include pledges to increase access and eliminate gender disparities in education over the next 15 years.

Yousafzai also used the speech to shine light on "the tragedies that millions of children are still suffering," from the girls abducted by Boko Haram to children fleeing Syria with their families.

They should look at the world from a different perspective and look at all children as their children

Malala Yousafzai
After her address, she urged world leaders to "take all these issues more seriously" and give them more attention. "They should think about their own children. No world leader would want their own daughter, their own son to be neglected in education, to be neglected in society, and to not be given full rights," she told reporters. "They should look at the world from a different perspective and look at all children as their children." Education remains a personal priority for Yousafzai, as well. She told reporters that she only misses school for commitments that are for a "good cause and...really bring change” — two boxes her remarks at the U.N. certainly check. The 18-year-old said she's hoping to attend a good university to study politics and economics. "I’m just like a normal girl who wants to study and get more and more knowledge, and this is how I can empower myself," she said. Watch Yousafzai's full remarks here.

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