Malala Yousafzai's Global Reach

By Abdul Hai Kakar and Charles Recknagel
Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai gives a speech after receiving the RAW (Reach All Women) in War Anna Politkovskaya Award at the Southbank Centre in London October 4, 2013. (Luke MacGregor/Reuters)
Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani advocate for girls' education, has made many friends worldwide since she survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban last year. 

One of those supporters is former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who also serves as UN special envoy for global education.

Brown recently said that Malala is a symbol of how much one individual can do when she believes firmly in a cause.

"Malala is a brave, courageous, wonderful young woman who has shown the world that the determination and courage to stand up for your principles can mean huge sacrifices but can also show the world that good can come when you stand up for your principles," Brown said.

Brown also said Malala has already made a difference in the education situation for girls in Pakistan. After she was shot in the head on a school bus by Taliban gunmen on her way home from school, thousands of schoolchildren demonstrated in support of her demand that girls be able to attend schools safely and freely.

The Democracy Report "When I visited Pakistan a month after Malala was shot, I found that thousands of girls and boys were supporting her campaign, and [I found] that the government introduced legislation to bring about free compulsory education -- they created stipends for 3 million girls," Brown said.

"Most recently, the new government has announced they will double the spending on education from 2 percent to 4 percent of national income. And much of this is due to the influence that Malala and her father and the cause she represents has had on the Pakistani people."

But Malala has also had a global reach. Brown said that as she now travels the world speaking on behalf of children's education, she has equally called for the world not to forget the plight of Syrian children in refugee camps in neighboring countries.

Asked if he feels Malala now has a good chance of winning this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Brown said that whether she receives it or not she is already a winner for making children's education such an important issue around the world.

"People are not talking about the importance of girls getting schooling, people are now talking about why 57 million children are not able to go to school because we have not the schools and the teachers or because we have child labor and child marriage preventing girls from going to school," Brown said.

Malala currently lives in Birmingham, in the U.K., where she received treatment after she was shot.

This post appears courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/10/malala-yousafzais-global-reach/280386/