A fund set up by Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, is to send 40 girls to school in her home region with the support of US actress Angelina Jolie.
Malala, 15, announced the fund’s first project in a video message late Thursday to the Women in the World Conference in New York from Britain, where she was sent for surgery after the attack on her school bus last October.
She said the $45,000 grant, raised with the help of Jolie and two women’s charities, would send 40 girls aged between five and 12 to school in Swat.
“Announcing the first grant of the Malala Fund is the happiest moment in my life,” Malala said.
“Let us turn the education of 40 girls into 40 million girls.”
The location and name of the project will not be released for security reasons, the Malala Fund said.
It will provide a safe place to study as well as financial support for the families of the girls, who the fund said would otherwise be engaged in domestic labour or possibly sent to work.
Jolie, who introduced Malala’s video message, hailed the schoolgirl’s courage and pledged to give $200,000 to the fund.
“In a brutal attempt to silence her voice, it grew louder,” Jolie told the conference.
Malala, who has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, first rose to prominence aged 11 with a blog for the BBC’s Urdu service charting her life under the Taliban.
Her attempted murder sparked worldwide condemnation and millions of people have signed petitions supporting her cause.
She had surgery in February to repair the hole in her skull left by the gunman’s bullet, and returned to school last month in Birmingham, the city in central England where she was treated.
Malala’s father has taken a job as an education attache at the Pakistani consulate in the city, which has a large Pakistani community.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2013.