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Malala stands up for kidnapped Nigerian girls

Published: 
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Malala Yusafzai shows that she’s supporting the campaign to free the kidnapped girls from captivity by Boko Haram.

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai came to international attention in 2012 when she was shot by Taliban gunmen because she spoke up for the right of girls to be educated. Her story inspired the world and she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. 

For her 17th birthday, Malala visited Nigeria where she spoke about the ongoing struggle girls have in receiving education. She also spoke in support of the girls who have been kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Following is the first part of her speech. 

Malala is visiting T&T under the auspices of the UTT and will make appearances across the country on July 30 and 31.

Guardian Media Ltd is the official partner for the visit of Malala. 

Dear sisters and brothers, on this Malala Day, I am honoured. I am honoured to be here with brave children, students, teachers, social activists, and Nigerian people.

Last Malala Day, I was in New York, in the big hall of the United Nations General Assembly. This year, I chose instead to turn 17 on the soil of Nigeria.

And I chose this for a purpose which is to honour and celebrate the strength of the children in Nigeria, and children across the world who are deprived of their basic right of education. I thank the Nigerian people for their warm welcome. You are an incredible, strong nation. You work every day to fight against your challenges through your unity, resilience and determination.

Dear brothers and sisters, last Malala Day, I told my story. I spoke about my life in the beautiful valley of Swat in Pakistan. I spoke about the rise of terrorism and the ban on girls’ education there, in my hometown. I spoke about the Taliban’s attack on my life, an attempt to silence me forever.

And now I will repeat, I will repeat what I said last year, that nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died, strength, power and courage was born.

When I was shot by the Taliban, the world stood up. “I am Malala” was the cry that I heard all around the world.

I received thousands of good wish cards and letters from people. And I believe that God saved my life because of people’s prayers.

Today, this Malala Day, I am not here to tell my story. Because I am not the only one who has been a target of extremism; there are hundreds and thousands of children who are suffering and suffering from terrorism and violence and do not have any access to education.

I speak for those children whose right to safety, health and quality education has been snatched from them. I speak for the 66 million girls who are out of school.

This Malala Day is the day for education of every child and is dedicated to my dear, dear, and dear Nigerian sisters who are going through the same brutal situation which I suffered through in my past. I dedicate this day to my sisters in Nigeria.

I will begin with a story. I am here to tell you about a story about a girl whom I met yesterday. I am really sorry that I cannot mention her name, but I will call her my sister.

My sister comes from the Nigerian village of Chibok. She is 16 years old. One day, when my sister was in school, some armed terrorists, known as Boko Haram came and tried to steal her dreams. They kidnapped her. But she was one of those luckiest ones who escaped from the abduction.

Before that her father got killed and her mother and sister got injured in the unstable situation in the north of Nigeria.

Since this attack, because of insecurity and poverty, she can no longer go to school. And her favourite subject is biology and she wants to become a doctor.

Every day, Boko Haram raids nearby villages to terrorise the local people. Over 200 girls were kidnapped and still have not returned. Next week, it will be 100 days; 100 days since they were taken; 100 days in captivity; 100 days out of school; 100 days without parents; 100 days under fear.

Dear sisters and brothers, not only in Nigeria, but in the situation all around the world especially in the Middle East countries, African countries and Pakistan is getting worse every day and children do not have access to education. And their studies are badly effected.

Around 57 million children are out of school; 10.5 million children in Nigeria do not have access to education. Around 400 girls in total are abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Seven million children in Pakistan are deprived of education. And about 900,000 people are homeless in Pakistan. In Pakistan, they had to leave their homes for their safety as there is a military operation going on against terrorists because of which many children now do not have any access to education and they are out of school.

Girls from Syria who were once in school and learning, now live in a camp, and struggle to understand a new life as a refugee. While the world is standing silent, doing nothing and the children in Syria are becoming a generation lost.

Because of conflict between Gaza and Israel, people are badly affected and children on both sides are suffering and recently many children died because of air strikes in Palestine, unfortunately.

Yes, sisters and brothers, issues are countless. But I am here to tell you my birthday wish on this prestigious occasion and to ask the responsible people to listen to the voice of the Nigerian girls and their parents for whom I am honouring today.

This birthday is not a kind of celebration where I will be having an enjoyment and eating cake and those things. This birthday I want to celebrate it, standing up with my Nigerian sisters and their parents, who are right here behind me.

Thank you so much for coming here. Thank you so much for coming here, both my sisters and their parents, because I know there will be many, many people who will be coming towards you and asking you questions and doing interviews. I know that your life is badly affected and these girls they have escaped from the kidnapping and they need some time to just sit quiet and just enjoy their life, just to relax for a little while, but they have sacrificed their time for this purpose that they want to tell the government to listen to their voices, listen to their voices and see to their wishes.

Thank you so much. Thank you. You are standing for those girls who are still under the abduction. Thank you for supporting me. And Malala Day.

Malala Day is a day where we all stand together for those that are voiceless. For those that are voiceless and must be heard. But for things to change it must be a day of action.

TOMORROW: The conclusion of Malala’s speech in Nigeria.