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Malala first signatory to UN-backed education petition


Malala Yousufzai. — AFP File Photo
Malala Yousufzai. — AFP File Photo

UNITED NATIONS: Malala Yousufzai became the first signatory of a new worldwide petition calling for urgent action to ensure the right of every child to safely attend school.

The petition was launched on Monday with the backing of the United Nations Special Envoy for Education.

Malala, 15, is expected to be honoured at a ceremony at the world body’s headquarters on July 12. It will be her first public appearance since she was shot last year by extremists, said a UN press release.

The launch came in the wake of an attack on a bus in Quetta that killed 14 girl students, said Special Envoy Gordon Brown in an article published in the Huffington Post.

“This, the bloodiest atrocity yet in escalating violence against female students, comes eight months after the attempted assassination of Malala and her two friends, Kainat and Shazia, targeted by terrorists just because they wanted to go to school,” Mr Brown wrote.

“That is why today, in advance of Malala Day on July 12, we are launching our worldwide petition to demand that global leaders ensure 57 million out-of-school girls and boys are given the chance of education,” he said.

Malala’s appearance at the UN headquarters on July 12 will mark her first major public speech since she was shot last October. She will be joined at the UN by hundreds of young people from around the world.

The petition and the UN event are part of an effort to establish universal primary education by December 2015, the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, a set of anti-poverty targets set by the UN member states in a 2000 summit.

In a video statement issued for the petition launch, Malala said the terrorists involved in the recent attack on girl students, which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned over the weekend, were “cowards.”

“The innocent girls who died on Saturday have nothing to do with politics and only wanted to empower themselves through education.

Obtaining education is every man and woman’s birthright and no one is allowed to take away this right from them,” she stressed.