13 Jul 2013

UN addressed by Pakistani schoolgirl Malala

6:10 am on 13 July 2013

Malala Yousefzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban last year, celebrated her 16th birthday on Friday by addressing an assembly at the United Nations.

After receiving a standing ovation, Malala spoke about the right to education for every child.

"Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution," she said.

The speech at the UN headquarters in New York was her first public address since last October's incident in the Swat valley.

After the shooting, Malala was flown from Pakistan to Britain for treatment. She now lives in Birmingham, England.

The BBC reports she told the UN that the Taliban's attack had only made her more resolute:

"The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions," she said, "but nothing changed in my life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born."

She continued: "I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists."

Malala said she was fighting for the rights of women because "they are the ones who suffer the most".

''The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens," added Malala, who was wearing a pink shawl that belonged to assassinated Pakistan leader Benazir Bhutto. "They are afraid of women."

The event was organised by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is now the UN Special Envoy for Global Education.