Every Girl Has the Right to an Education
By Nigel Chapman, Chief Executive, Plan International
Every girl has the right to an education. But for many girls across the world, an education is nothing but a dream – and a dangerous dream at that.
Last October, 14-year-old schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban, because she was determined for herself and other girls to be schooled. Mercifully, it didn’t go unnoticed.
Malala’s story struck a chord with millions of people – including me – and the young campaigner has become a beacon of inspiration to millions. This is an extraordinary, brave young woman who, when faced with death, refused to give up and refused to be silenced.
Angelina Jolie was so moved by Malala’s story, she took to the stage at the Women in the World Summit, stating, “In a brutal attempt to silence her voice, it grew louder, and she more resolute, calling on the entire world – not just Pakistan – to ensure the right for every girl and boy for an education.”
I’ve been fortunate enough to witness first-hand the hope Malala has given to those like her. Recently, Plan girls’ Global Ambassador Urmila Chaudhary was badly injured while protesting for girls’ rights in Nepal.
Even when Urmila was hospitalised, she was determined not to give up. She wanted to tell Malala: “You are not alone in your fight for girls’ education. We are also behind with you. We support you and we hope that you stick with your mission.”
What I find most hopeful is the galvanised unity that has resulted from this atrocity. From Tanzania and El Salvador to Vietnam and Indonesia, these girls have come together to prove that they will not be defeated in the face of extreme prejudice and violence.
Just this week, Malala’s friend Shazia, who was sitting on the bus next to the teenager when she was shot, arrived in the UK. The poignant moment of their reunion was a reminder that there are many ‘Malalas’ – in fact some *34 million 11-15-year-old girls around the world are currently out of education.
And on July 12 – the teenager’s 16th birthday – Malala will take to the United Nations in New York to lead the General Assembly’s first ever youth takeover along with Plan youth delegates and others and to deliver a keynote speech about the importance of girls’ education.
Malala, you are a true heroine to us and all the other young campaigners out there. Together, we must ensure that every girl is able to take her rightful place in the classroom and start her personal journey to learning and development.
Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign backs Gordon Brown’s work to end gender discrimination in schools around the world. Join the campaign and raise your hand in support of girls’ education here. Follow Plan Asia (@PlanAsia) on Twitter for all the latest on Malala Day.