London: Malala Yousafzai, who emerged as a global icon for women's rights after being shot at by Taliban for advocating girl's education in Pakistan, will give her first public speech in New York on her 16th birthday on July 12, a day that would now be marked as 'Malala Day'. UN Special Envoy and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on Friday that Malala is determined to continue campaigning for girls' education and will speak to a specially convened meeting of young people from around the world at the United Nations.
Her first public address is being organised by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown along with the President of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic. Some 4,000 young people from across the globe are likely to attend the launch of a youth campaign to secure universal primary education.
A petition signed by one million children, who are denied schooling, will be handed over to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the same day, with an aim to pass a resolution at the UN to end all forms of child slavery, labour, marriage and discrimination against girls. Brown said that just as the Arab Spring had brought young people to the centre stage demanding change, so too was a new wave of protest from millions of children demanding their rights to education.
"We are seeing in the Indian subcontinent a wave of protests from boys and girls, not dissimilar to those by teenagers and students that marked the Arab Spring," Brown said in a meeting in London on Friday. Currently, 61 million children go without a single day of primary school.
"Malala is a true inspiration and a shining beacon for girls education around the world. I am full of admiration for her courage and determination in the journey she is on, and am sure that she can become a real leader in the campaign for a school place for every girl - and every boy," said Brown.
Malala, who has made a remarkable recovery and has since returned to school, is yet to make a public speech. A passionate campaigner for a long-time for the right of every girl to attend school, Malala will be making the case that the voice of young people is essential in the fight for education.
The Malala Day meeting will close with a youth resolution to make education for all a reality by the end of 2015, as was promised in the second Millennium Development Goal in 2000. Brown's announcement was made during the 'Learning for All Ministerial' meeting, co-hosted with Jim Kim of the World Bank and Ban at the World Bank in Washington.
The meeting, one of a series of events as part of an education summit, examined how to put in place education for all in eight countries which represent around half of the world's out-of-school children. The petition that will submitted to Ban, has been organised by young people of Pakistan to protest against their exclusion from education.
The petition comes at a time when fifty national and international children's organisations have agreed to form a new coalition against child slavery and for universal education in Washington. "This petition is another demonstration of the growing new force in the debate on universal education. Young people are outraged at the denial of their basic rights particularly the right of girls to education. They will no longer allow threats, intimidation and violence to stand in the way of attaining those rights," said Brown.
In a series of meetings on global education,concluding in Washington, the main focus will be how young people have become empowered in their campaign to secure education. A session on child slavery will focus on child labour and child-trafficking, and the immediate measures that can be taken to put an end to these practises.
The meetings are driven by civil society groups, from international organisations such as the Global March Against Child Labour, Walk Free and Plan International, to campaigning organisations from around the world. "What is needed is a comprehensive plan that deals with each injustice that is preventing children going to school," Brown said.
"I am confident that this unprecedented meeting of civil society will yield a concrete plan and agreed actions to put an end to the twin blights of child marriage and child labour, which keep so many children out of school," he added. "Young people, connected through technology and social media, are more aware than ever before of the rights enjoyed by their contemporaries in other countries," said Brown.