Ajman: World leaders are not making enough investments to support girls’ education, said Pakistani Nobel laureate and girls education activist Malala Yusufzai on Tuesday in Ajman.
Speaking to Gulf News after interacting with students of Omar Bin Al Khattab Pakistani Islamia High School in Ajman, she said: “We need bigger contributions from everyone, because the target is high. Sixty-six million girls are out of school around the world and in order to make sure these girls go to school we need more investment and contributions from the government as well as people who have the authority to bring the change.”
However, she admitted there has been some progress in the last few years.
“I think there has been some change over the last five-six years. The importance of girls’ education has been recognised on a global scale. The UN has included both primary and secondary education in its sustainable development goals,” she said.
However, she added that the progress is slow.
She added that some countries, including the UAE, have made great progress in providing education to girls and are committed in the cause.
The Nobel laureate is on a visit to the UAE to attend a conference in Sharjah.
Addressing an assembly of predominantly girl students, she said: “It is so great to see girls with passion and commitment for education. It is important for girls to believe in themselves, get an education and help their countries to develop. Girls form more than half of the world’s population and it is important to have their participation in the society.”
Sharing the story of her struggle, she said: “I was just 11 years old when the terrorists banned girls’ education in Swat Valley. It was then that I realised that education was more than just books and pens. It is a way to empower women and help them realise their dreams.”
She said that under such dangerous circumstances she decided to speak and raise her voice against the injustice.
Urging the students to make the best of the opportunities they have, she said: “You are one of the luckiest girls in this world to have this opportunity to learn and empower yourselves so you should make the best use of this opportunity and be a role model for millions of those who don’t have this opportunity.”
Outlining her mission of reaching out to every girl child, she added: “My mission is to reach out to all the girls. This is the reason why we set up the Malala Fund three years ago. Through the Fund we do advocacy for education, we meet world leaders to ensure that they make education their priority.”
She said that the Malala Fund also builds schools in refugee camps and poor regions of the world.
“One of the most important things we do is to amplify local voices. We raise girls from local communities to have a voice. We give them a platform to speak for themselves. I believe that giving a voice to girls in the community is very important in order to ensure their rights.
Malala is in the UAE for the Investing in Future (IIFMENA) conference, which starts in Sharjah on Wednesday. Sources….