Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousafzai, in her first public speech at the United Nations since being shot in the head by the Taliban, has said that she is inspired by Mahatama Gandhi’s path of non-violence.
Malala invoked Gandhi and other global advocates of non-violence stressing that, “I’m not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban, or any other terrorist group.”
“I’m here to speak about the right of education for every child,” Malala said, in an impassioned address to the UN Youth Assembly yesterday.
“I want education for the sons and daughters of all the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hands and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him.”
“This is the philosophy of non-violence that I have learnt from Gandhiji, Badshah Khan and Mother Teresa,” the 16-year-old said.
Malala told the UN that she would not be silenced by terrorist threats.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world,” Malala said.
The UN celebrated Malala’s 16th birthday yesterday as Malala Day with day-long programmes for youth drawn from all over the world.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named Malala’s 16th birthday, ‘Malala Day’, in honour of her heroic stand to ensure education for all.
Ban welcomed Malala to the UN praising her courage and determination.
“Malala chose to mark her 16th birthday with the world,” Ban said, noting the strong support she has received from millions of people all over the world.
“Malala, you are not alone. We are all with you, standing behind you,” the UN Secretary General said.
The meeting, which featured nearly 1,000 youth leaders, was addressed by former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly, and Ahmad Alhendawi, the Special Envoy on Youth.
Malala became a global icon for girls’ education after being brutally attacked by Taliban militants while on her way to school in Swat valley on October 9, 2012.
Malala told the gathering that the Taliban’s attack nine months ago changed nothing in her life, except that “weakness, fear and hopelessness died’’.