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The twelfth day July in 2013 is her sixteenth birthday. Let it be proclaimed globally as an international holiday marking the importance of women's rights:

Malala Yousafzai was born into a Muslim family of Pashtun ethnicity in July 1997 and given her first name, Malala, meaning "grief stricken", after Malalai of Maiwand, a Pashtun poetess and warrior woman. Her last name, Yousufzai, is that of a large Pashtun tribal confederation that is predominant in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where she grew up. ...

Yousafzai was educated in large part by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is a poet, school owner and an educational activist himself, running a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School, named after a famous Pashtun poet, Khushal Khan Khattak. She once stated to an interviewer that she would like to become a doctor, though later her father encouraged her to become a politician instead.. Ziauddin referred to his daughter as something entirely special, permitting her to stay up at night and talk about politics after her two brothers had been sent to bed.

But, more than that ... below the fold:

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban, has told the UN that books and pens scare extremists, as she urged education for all.

Speaking on her 16th birthday, Malala said efforts to silence her had failed.

She was shot in the head on a school bus by Taliban gunmen because of her campaign for girls' rights.

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

Malala has been credited with bringing the issue of women's education to global attention. A quarter of young women around the world have not completed primary school.


On October 9, 2012 the Taliban of Pakistan literally shot Malala Yousafzai to international prominence by shooting her in the head and neck in an assassination attempt as she was going home in a school bus. She was critically wounded and unconscious, but as soon as her condition improved enough for her to be moved she was flown to to a hospital in the United Kingdom for intensive rehabilitation, as well as to further ensure her safety from further Taliban attacks.

Even before the attack Ms Yousafsai had gained some prominence as a BBC blogger about life under the Taliban. After her first entry on January 3, 2009, the repressive Taliban issued an edict that no girls could attend school after January 15, 2009. Previously the Taliban had blown up more than a hundred girls' schools.

A book in the hand of a woman or a girl is a very frightening thing to the Taliban.

Additional BBC coverage on Ms Yousafzai's speech:

Amid several standing ovations, Malala told the UN on Friday 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 - who is considered a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize - 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."

She called on politicians to take urgent action to ensure every child has the right to go to school.

Latest figures show Pakistan has the second highest number of children out of school in the world.

"Let us pick up our books and pens," Malala summed up. "They are our most powerful weapons.

Originally posted to Karen Hedwig Backman on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sluts.

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