INTERVIEW: In fighting for girls’ education, UN advocate Malala Yousafzai finds her purpose

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5 October 2017 – More than 260 million children, adolescents and youth are out of school around the world, according to the United Nations. Despite some progress in achieving gender equality in the world’s poorest countries, far more girls than boys still do not have access to a quality education,

Research has shown that educating girls, in particular, has a ‘multiplier effect’. Educated girls are more likely to marry later and have fewer children, who in turn will be more likely to survive and to be better nourished and educated. Educated women are more productive at home and better paid in the workplace, and more able to participate in social, economic and political decision-making.

Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres designated education activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai as a UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on girls’ education. Ms. Yousafzai began speaking out for girls’ education at the age of 11 in her native Pakistan. After surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012, she co-founded the Malala Fund with her father Ziauddin to champion every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

In September, the Malala Fund started the Gulmakai Network to support the work of education champions in developing countries and speed up progress towards girls’ secondary education around the world. The 20-year-old, who will be attending Oxford University, spoke to UN News about the need to increase investment in education, the importance of allowing girls to be who they want to be, and when it was that she discovered the power of her own voice and the purpose for her life.

 

UN News: Tell us more about the new initiative the Malala Fund is carrying out to help girls education in a number of countries.

Malala Yousafzai: The Malala Fund started the Gulmakai Network, and the goal of this mission is to empower local leaders and some local activists. So we support them and we are already working in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and also the Syrian refugee areas. So we want to increase that investment and also support local advocates, as well as local girl advocates. So for that we have $3 million and we want to expand that group, redouble our efforts, and make sure we can give to as many local activists as we can because they are the real change-makers in their community, and when we empower them, through them, we can bring change.

 

 

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