Inspirations from Malala

July 29, 2013

By Kobusingye Daphne, Training Volunteer, Girls’ Education Movement (Uganda)

Inside the youth assembly hall on Malala Day © UNICEF/2013

With the world increasingly facing economic, social and technological change and development, education is playing a central role in facilitating adaptation and adjustment to those changes. Innovation, creativity, IT, computer knowledge, the basic ability to read and write are what shall determine the future of many young people today. However, the education system is facing many challenges which are a hindrance to the necessary adaptation skills at a global level. The challenges are demographic-specific, cultural, social and economic. The UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) is a partnership dedicated toward the cause of ensuring that every child, particularly girls, across the globe have the opportunity to adapt to this changing world and be a productive global citizen through education.

The 12th of July 2013 was a day to mark on my calendar to join Malala Yozoufzai in celebrating her 16th birthday with hundreds of youth from all over the world in New York City. Malala made her first public statement after she sustained a bullet wound for advocating for girls’ education in Pakistan. I had the pleasure of listening to Malala speak in front of hundreds of youths, it was a priceless experience. She spoke of the importance of a girl with a book and a pen in her hand. It was not an entirely new lesson but a fresh view of the power that an educated woman can hold. In Malala’s speech she mentioned how the Taliban were afraid of the women in Pakistan who have gone to school. I learnt of the similarities in challenges that developing countries are facing in education plus the contrast with developed countries which was interesting.

Daphne shaking hands with Mr. Gordon Brown © UNICEF/2013

During this event, another iconic moment for me was personally meeting Mr. Gordon Brown, it was an irreplaceable motivation. He said, “We are all Malala. Now is the time to move forward with a tremendous force and not back out and keep locked behind the shackles of culture and society.” The next generation always shapes the future and fortunately for us, we have the support of some of the most influential people in the world like the former prime minister of UK Mr. Gordon Brown, UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon, and several others. We should exploit this opportunity to achieve that which our predecessors could not. 57 million children CAN find their way to school.

I attended an UNGEI-Plan International organized skills session on grassroots campaigning and hope to replicate the advocacy strategies and lessons shared from other youth to the Girls’ Education Movement in Uganda in our race to increase access, retention and completion of school for all children especially girls country wide. I along with Mr. Modou C Nyange another UNGEI-sponsored youth from The Gambia would also like to jointly capitalize on this experience to benefit not just our home organizations that we represented at the event but also represent as many organizations fighting for global education as possible and in that light campaign for an African youth take over! …this will help to fuel the movement miles ahead. Education first!

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