A Pakistani girl shot by the Taleban for championing women’s rights to education yesterday told the United Nations she was one of millions struggling for the cause around the world.
Malala Yousafzai, who has been recovering in Britain from last year’s attack, told the youth assembly in New York: “Thousands of people have been killed by terrorists and millions injured – I am just one of them.”
Friday was Malala’s 16th birthday and her speech to more than 500 delegates at the UN’s headquarters was her first public address. In her honour, the UN declared it Malala Day.
Just last year she cheated an assassin’s bullet when she was shot in the head during an attack on her school bus in the north-western Swat Valley last year.
Yesterday, she was greeted by a standing ovation when she took to the dais. She said: “Malala Day is not my day – today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.
“There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not speaking for their rights but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality.
“Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions injured – I am just one of them.”
Speaking of the attempt on her life, she added: “On the 9 October 2012, the Taleban shot me on the left-side of my forehead and they shot friends too.
“They thought that the bullet would silence us – but they failed. Out of that silence came thousands of voices.
“The terrorists thought they would stop my ambitions. But nothing changed except this: weakness, fear and helplessness died, and strength, power and courage were born.”
Ms Yousafzai, who now lives in Birmingham, said she was speaking to delegates from more than 80 countries, as “one girl among many”. “I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child. This is the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.”