Education International
Education International

It is quite natural that today, Malala is sitting at the front and centre

published 15 July 2013 updated 26 July 2013

EI’s delegation to the youth takeover of the United Nations General Assembly joined in a standing ovation, whoops and shouts as Malala Yousafzai stood to deliver her speech.

It was a joyous and inspiring moment, when Malala Yousafzai stood up from her seat next to the Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, to deliver her speech to a UN General Assembly of young delegates.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, said that the seat Malala occupied was usually occupied by himself or the Chair of the General Assembly. He said, however, that: “It is quite natural that today, Malala is sitting at the front and centre”, because she was the reason so many were gathered there, and millions more were watching in dozens of countries all around the world.

The Secretary General urged the young delegates to continue the movement that had been inspired by Malala’s strength and courage; the movement to ensure that all children will have access to quality education.

He stated that ‘this should not be the only day, it has to continue: world leaders must listen to your voices…I urge you to keep speaking up, to keep up the pressure, to keep making a difference”.

The Symbol of Courage and Action Many Have Been Waiting For Malala has become a symbol for youth activism for quality education for all: the courage that she has shown, prior to the attempt on her life, during her recovery and after it, has been the catalyst for thousands of young people, politicians and civil society actors to act.

As she spoke, it became clear that this is something she is very aware of, she said: “Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing: Malala day is not my day, today is the day of every woman, every boy, every girl, who has raised their voice for their rights…here I stand, one girl among many. I speak not for myself, but for those whose voice cannot be heard…those who fight for their right to…equality of opportunity, their right to be educated”.

Malala’s speech has been received positively across the world in the many media outlets that covered the event at the UN. These include the New York Times, Washington Post, der Spiegel, the Guardian, the BBC, and El Pais.

Even the celebrity world could not ignore what was happening at the UN on July 12th; singer and entertainer Beyonce Knowles tweeted a handwritten note in which she wished Malala happy birthday, and stated that Malala’s ‘bravery and perserverence has touched the world’ [link to the tweet].

EI Delegate Makes Statement at UN General Assembly Mennatallah Shapaan Abdelgid Morsy Hikal, EI’s delegate from the ITU in Egypt was one of 12 delegates who made short statements to the General Assembly after Malala’s speech.

Ms Hikal spoke about the need for quality publicly financed education in her home country, and called for adequate teacher training. She said: “Very often, the problem is not a shortage of money; it is the way the money is spent. We need to make sure that teachers receive proper training, so that they can provide the quality education that children deserve”. Her statement is available for download here.

Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, was happy to chat with members of EI’s delegation at the end of the proceedings at the General Assembly.

He appealed to EI affiliates to continue working towards the shared goal of quality education for all by 2015. Mr Brown will participate in the launch of EI’s Mobilizing for Quality Education Campaign later this year.