Honoring Malala, Clinton says it’s time to close the education gap

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Teen education advocate Malala Yousafzai recovers from a gunshot wound at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in England.
Teen education advocate Malala Yousafzai recovers from a gunshot wound at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in England.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham/AFP photo

Hillary Clinton honored Malala Yousafzai Monday at a UNESCO event in Paris on International Human Rights Day. The advocacy event was organized around the rallying cry, “Stand up for Malala–Girl’s education is a right!” And the Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education was launched, which aims to raise enough money to ensure all girls go to school by 2015.

“Today, we stand together with Malala and the millions of other girls and women who are risking their lives to get an education,” Clinton said via video message. “Girls with secondary schooling are far less likely to become child brides.  They are more likely to earn better incomes when they begin working.  They will have smaller families, and their children will be healthier.”

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari attended the event in Paris and pledged $10 million to the fund. “I have no doubt that our resolve to provide education to all, in particular to the millions of schoolgirls, is the best strategy to defeat the forces of violence,” he said.

Malala is still recovering at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England–where Zardari visited her before the UNESCO conference–after being shot in the head by Taliban Pakistan in October.

“All sources close to her say that she continues to recover well, and still has a long road ahead,” said NBC News correspondent Amna Nawaz Monday on Andrea Mitchell Reports.

Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, was named UN Special Adviser on Global Education Monday by former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, who serves as United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education. And Malala herself is in the running to be TIME Magazine’s people’s choice person of the year.

The injured 15-year old jump-started the global conversation on girls’ education, and as Hillary Clinton said on Monday in her video message, “The evidence is clear and the debate should be over. Closing the education gap is a powerful prescription for economic growth.”

“On behalf of Malala and countless other girls who share her dream, let us continue to champion their right to an education–and let us expose those who would deny it,” Clinton went on. “Together, we can build a world where opportunity and education remain a powerful force for progress.”

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Honoring Malala, Clinton says it's time to close the education gap

Updated