While Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old girl shot by the Taliban, recovers in a British hospital, Malala the Symbol grows stronger, too. United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon declared November 10 as “Malala Day.” A month after the child education activist was shot in the head by the Taliban, the U.N. wanted to commemorate Saturday as a day of action to focus on “Malala and the 32 million girls like Malala not at school.”
In the U.N.’s video message, Ban Ki-Moon asks for citizens worldwide to support Malala’s fight for every girl’s right to an education. On Friday, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is also the U.N. chief’s Special Envoy for Global Education, presented a petition with over a million signatures pledging their support of Malala’s mission to the Pakistan government.
“I am adding my voice to the messages from over one million people across the globe. Education is a fundamental human right. It is a pathway to development, tolerance and global citizenship.”
Pakistani president Asif Zardari added his signature to Brown’s petition signed by more than a million people and announced that poor families will receive a cash stipend of $2 month per child if they enrolled their children in primary school, which would allow more than 3 million children in Pakistan to receive an education. The program will be funded by the World Bank and Britain and distributed through the government’s Benazir Income Support Program, designed to give small cash payments to needy families. The families in the program already receive $10 a month for basic expenditure.
And Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has also honored Malala’s courage and urged Pakistan to stand against the extremist mindset of the Taliban that led to her attack.
“The outpouring of sympathy for Malala and abhorrence over the cowardly act demonstrate the determination of the Pakistani society not to allow a handful of radicalised elements to dictate their agenda.”
On October 9, members of the Taliban shot Malala and two schoolmates on her school way in Swat Valley, in an attempt to assassinate the 15-year-old blogger for committing the “crime” of fighting for girls’ rights to attend school. Malala has since been recovering in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, and is now able to sit up and read.
Malala’s father, a Pakistani educator, thanked “all peace-loving well-wishers” in a video statement released today in the British hospital where Malala is recovering.
The video shows young Malala sitting up at a table in her hospital room, holding a teddy bear, reading cards and letters sent from supporters. Mr. Yousafzai states,
“Malala is recovering well and wants me to tell you she has been inspired and humbled by the thousands of cards, messages and gifts that she has received. They have helped my daughter’s survival and has helped her stay strong. She wants me to tell everyone how grateful she is, and is amazed that men, women and children from across the world are interested in her well-being.”
A campaign led by a Pakistani-British woman has urged Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior government officials to nominate Malala for the Nobel Peace Prize when the time arrives in February. More than 30,000 people have signed the petition in Britain as a global initiative by women’s rights groups to nominate her for the prize. Similar petitions have sprung up in Canada, Germany, France and Spain.