UNITED NATIONS – With a maturity and poise that belied her tender years, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen shot by the Taliban for championing girls’ education, stood by world leaders and called for books, not guns.
“Instead of sending weapons, instead of sending tanks to Afghanistan and all these countries which are suffering from terrorism, send books,” she pleaded Wednesday at the first anniversary of the Global Education First initiative at the United Nations in New York. “Instead of sending tanks, send pens.”
In October last year, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she was on her way to school, an attack that drew worldwide condemnation. Now she has become a global advocate for the right of all children, and in particular girls, to have a proper education.
“Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers,” Malala argued at an event attended by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and other luminaries.
According to the United Nations, some 57 million children around the world of elementary school age are denied an education, and 52 percent of them are girls.
“This is my dream: to see every child to be educated,” Malala told the gathering. “This is my dream: to see equality for every human being. This is my dream: to see peace everywhere in the world — in Nigeria, in Syria, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan.”
She added: “We want women to be independent . . . and to have equal rights as men have. We believe in equality and to give equality to women is justice. We are here to find a solution for all these problems that we are facing.”