Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai is to address the United Nations as part of her campaign to ensure free compulsory education for every child.
She will mark her 16th birthday by delivering a speech at the UN headquarters in New York.
Malala was shot in the head on a school bus by Taliban gunmen because of her campaign for girls’ rights.
It will be her first public speech since last October’s incident in Pakistan’s north-western Swat valley.
After the shooting Malala was flown from Pakistan to the UK for treatment, and now lives in Birmingham.
A passionate campaigner for female education, Malala will address more than 500 students at a specially convened youth assembly.
ABOUT HOLLY & LAUREN:
- Holly and Lauren are 15-year-old pupils from Bartley Green School in Birmingham who are travelling to New York as part of the BBC’s reporting team to cover a unique Youth Assembly and Malala Yousafzai’s keynote speech
- In March on School Report’s annual News Day they co-presented BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour with Jenni Murray
- Stories covered by the girls on air included the issue of safety on buses in the wake of the fatal stabbing of schoolgirl Christina Edkins on her way to school
The teenager has been credited with bringing the issue of women’s education to global attention.
In her speech she will call on politicians to take urgent action to ensure every child has the right to go to school.
“Let us pick up our books and pens,” Malala is expected to day. “They are our most powerful weapons.
“One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”
About 57m people around the world still do not have access to education, and a quarter of young women have not completed primary school.
Girls’ education in Pakistan
- Out of nearly 160,000 public schools only 38% are for girls
- Out of nearly 23 million enrolled students only 42% are girls
- Out of more than 700,000 teachers only 40% are women
- Source: Plan International
The schoolgirl, who set up the Malala Fund following the attack, will also present a petition of more than three million signatures to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanding education for all.
The event, described as Malala Day by the UN, has been organised by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, now the UN Special Envoy for Global Education.
He said: “Getting every girl and boy into school by 2015 is achievable.
“It is only impossible if people say it’s impossible. Malala says it is possible – and young people all over the world think it is possible.”
Aid agencies say that female access to education in Pakistan is a particular problem. They say that the country ranks among the lowest in terms of girls’ education enrolment, literacy and government spending.