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Malala: Education can change the world
Pakistani school girl and education activist Malala Yousafzai is currently in T&T for a series of events under the auspices of the UTT. Guardian Media Ltd is the official media partner for Malala’s visit. Here is the conclusion of the speech she gave in Nigeria on Malala Day, her 17th birthday.
Through our own organisation, the Malala Fund, we have raised about US$200,000 that will be given to two Nigerian-led organisations, Girl Child Concern and the Center for Girls Education.
The heads of these two organisations are here with us today, (I don’t know where they are, somewhere around here) and I am really thankful to them for the work that they are doing and for becoming partners with us, which will help us to empower and to educate Nigerian girls. Thank you so much.
I know that my small contribution is not enough. We still need a lot to do. But it is a start. I am just one girl. And this is what I could do in such a short time. But the question here is what will the adults do? What will the responsible people do? What will the leaders do?
Dear brothers and sisters, one thing about today which was very important was my meeting with the honourable President Mr Goodluck Jonathan. I met him today and I told him that I raise my voice for my sisters. I am representing my sisters and their parents to you today. And as you have been elected president, you need to fulfil your responsibilities. Thank you. And I told him that you need to fulfil your responsibility and your responsibility is to listen to your people who are saying bring back our girls.
And luckily the president did make two promises. He made two promises to me and to you, to the people of his country. He promised that the government will choose the best option to bring back our girls alive and safe. And the second promise he made, the second promise he made, is very important, is that he will meet the parents of those girls who are abducted and I am hopeful that he will fulfil it.
I am hopeful that the president will meet you soon, because he made this promise to me and to you and to all Nigerian people.
But today I am not only asking the president and the government of Nigeria to take action, but I am also asking Boko Haram. I ask Boko Haram to stop misusing the name of Islam. Islam is a religion of peace. Islam allows every girl and every boy to get education, to go to school. And education is compulsory in Islam. The word Islam means peace. And the first word that was revealed on Prophet was Iqra, read, read, read. Islam gives the message of tolerance, patience, harmony and humanity.
I want to tell Boko Haram. Think about your own sisters, just think for a while, think about your own sisters. If they suffer through the same brutal and harsh situation how would you feel, if your sisters are homeless, if they are under the captivity of someone that is so violent and cruel, how would you feel. Those who are under your imprisonment are like your sisters.
Islam gives a message of brotherhood. We are all sisters and brothers. You are misusing the name of Islam. You are misusing the name of Islam, but you haven’t read the Qur’an yet. You haven’t read about Islam yet. You should know that Islam gives a message of brotherhood. Islam says that we are all sisters and brothers, and that we should respect each other’s cultures, religions, and languages that we speak, which is to respect each other.
So I would request you lay down your weapons, release your sisters. Lay down your weapons, release your sisters, release my sisters, and release the daughters of this nation. Release the daughters of this nation. Let them be free; they have committed no crime.
And to Nigerian people, I would like to say that Nigeria is a rich country not because it has oil resources but because it has people with the wealth of tolerance, bravery and courage. Because people, with the wealth of humanity, this is the wealth of people, this is the wealth of this country.
People are the ones who build nations. So make your country stronger by your unity and togetherness. Make it stronger. And do not judge each other on the basis of your religion, caste, colour, creed or the language that you speak. Because these are just for our identity. These are not for how we should treat each other. We should treat each other as human beings. We are all human beings and we should treat each other as human beings. We should not be screaming at each other on the basis of religion and the language that we speak.
And today I call upon the world community to protect girls across the world. Protect girls from inhuman acts and violence that girls in India are suffering, as they were hung after the rape in May. Protect girls from the cruelty which girls in my home country Pakistan are suffering through, where they are forced to marry, leaving the schools to become brides, when they should be girls. Giving birth to children when they themselves are children. No child, anywhere, no child anywhere, ever, should be target of conflict or violence.
To the girls of Nigeria, you all are sitting here. To the girls of Nigeria and across Africa, and all over the world, I want to say don’t let anyone tell you that you are weaker than or less than anything. You are not less than a boy. You are not less than a child from a richer family or a richer country. You are the future of your country. You are going to build up your nation. You are going to build up your country.
Today, I ask all countries to say no to wars. Let us say no to wars. Let us talk. Let us bring peace. Why not use dialogue?
Why not talk to each other? We are treating each other like animals. We are no more human beings. And I request that the war between Israel and Gaza should be ended. The conflict in Ukraine should be resolved. The bloodshed in Iraq and Syria should be stopped. The terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan should be eliminated.
And violence in Nigeria and other Middle Eastern African countries should be ended. Violence anywhere, in any country, war anywhere, in any countries, should be ended. Let’s say no to wars. And instead of spending money on wars, and guns and weapons, why not spend this money on education? A country becomes powerful, when its people are educated, when its future generation is educated. So to make a country powerful, don’t make weapons, don’t spend money on weapons, but rather spend the money on education.
Let us all stand together. Stand together for peace and education because together we are more powerful. Stronger than any challenge. You are stronger than any. We are stronger than fear. Stronger than hatred. Stronger than cruelty. Stronger than any kind of violence. We are stronger than any challenge.
Education is the best weapon through which we can fight poverty, ignorance and terrorism. The road to education, peace and equality is very long. It is a very long journey. But if we go together, we will achieve our goals and we will complete our journey. We have to walk together.
History is neither sent from the sky nor does it get made up by itself, it is we who make the history. Let us make history and bring change. Let us not forget that one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.