Friday, July 12th, was Malala Yousafazi’s 16th birthday. Last October, Malala was shot by the Taliban for speaking out for girls’ education. They failed in their attempt to silence her. On Friday, she and students from over 80 countries lead the “United Nations Youth Takeover” with a global call to action for quality education for all children. Malala herself said:

One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.

By Oxfam East Africa c/o Laura Pannack, via Wikimedia Commons
By Oxfam East Africa c/o Laura Pannack, via Wikimedia Commons

Quality education for every child, every person, should be a right that all people have. Yet, 57 million children are not in school, while millions more are not getting quality education.

In the days after Malala’s shooting, other families and young girls were afraid to go to school, and the classrooms remained empty. While these girls eventually went back to school, and grew in number, the terror continues. In June, a university bus carrying women teachers and students in Pakistan was bombed.

But in other places around the world, these aren’t the barriers and challenges girls face in their attempts to get a quality education. Girls are consistently used as infrastructure for clean water, electricity, and childcare systems. Girls cannot attend school if they have to walk long distances to collect water for their families. Children cannot attend school if they are sick from drinking dirty water or from not having a toilet. Girls cannot attend school when they start their periods if their school does not have toilets for them to use privately. Children cannot receive quality education if they are developmentally stunted from undernutrition due to unsafe water and sanitation.

We all stand with Malala to fight for quality education for every child.

Let’s keep the momentum from Malala Day going, and continue to advocate for the defeat of all causes of this injustice. The youth at the UN Takeover urged governments to help children who are not enrolled in school. Let’s urge them, not only to end the violence against girls and schoolchildren, but also to create lasting change in education infrastructure and systems, such as school toilets and buildings, training for teachers, school books, and the barriers that prevent children from going to school in the first place. See the Girls’ Globe infographic on education.

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4 Responses

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