LONDON: The father of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, has been named a UN special advisor on global education, UN envoy Gordon Brown said Monday.
Brown added that the 15-year-old schoolgirl, who is recovering in a British hospital after being brutally attacked on her school bus on October 9, will herself join the campaign when she is better.
Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father, is a former teacher and headmaster and has been appointed to help in what Brown has dubbed a new ‘Malala Plan’ to get all girls into school around the world by the end of 2015.
Brown is also pushing for Malala’s birthday, July 12th, to be designated a day of action each year when children around the world are invited to march, demonstrate, petition and pray for education to be delivered worldwide.
“Before she was shot, Malala was advocating the cause of girls’ education faced by a Taliban that had closed down and destroyed 600 schools,” said the former British prime minister, now UN special envoy for global education.
“If the Taliban sought to vanquish her voice once and for all, they failed.
“For today her voice and her insistent dream that children should go to school echoes all around the world, as girl after girl, each wanting all girls to have the right to go to school, identifies with Malala.”
Brown added: “In time Malala herself is determined to join the campaign for every girl’s right to education and when she has recovered she will do so, becoming one of the leaders of that campaign.”
In an attack that shocked the world, Malala was shot in the head as punishment for the “crime” of campaigning for girls’ rights to go to school.
She survived the murder attempt but requires reconstructive surgery after the bullet grazed her brain, coming within centimetres of killing her.
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday visited Malala at the specialist Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, central England, and met with members of her family.
Pakistan and the Unesco signed a resolution to form a ‘Malala Fund’ in order to provide education to underprivileged girls across the world, reported Express News.
Pakistan also agreed to initially donate $10 million to the fund during a conference held in Paris on Monday, titled “Stand Up for Malala, Stand Up for Girls Education”.
President Asif Ali Zardari commended the UN’s effort of formulating a fund for girls’ education and appreciated Malala’s ‘bravery’ for standing up to the cause despite being attacked.
“Two months ago, on the 9th of October, a young determined daughter of my country, Malala Yousafzai, was attacked by the forces of darkness. Malala Yousafzai stood for the right to education, not just for herself but for a bright, progressive future of Pakistan,” the president said.
He also said that it was ‘deeply moving’ for him to meet Malala in the hospital two days ago and assured that she was showing satisfactory progress.
“Her recovery is a symbol of resilience of my great nation. It is also a symbol of the battle between two mindsets – the one of Malala Yousafzai representing a bright progressive future of Pakistan which is the agenda of the democratic political forces of Pakistan and the other being forced on us by the minority of darkness, violence, hatred and conflict,” President Zardari stated.
He urged other governments, donors, politicians and educationists to help so that it can be ensured that “every Malala in Pakistan receives quality education and contributes towards a progressive Pakistan”.
Malala thanks supporters
In a message read by a girl at the conference, Malala thanked her supporters and well-wishers and vowed to keep struggling hard.
“Today is the happiest day for me because the honourable president of Pakistan and the UNESCO are here to help the poor and uneducated children,” the message read.
Malala added that she had received thousands of cards full of good wishes and a lot of gifts but a greater honour for her would be education for all girls.
“The sooner all deprived children go to school, the sooner I will get better.”