Education

Malala Yousafzai calls for stronger support of Afghan women

By Salaam Times and AFP

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Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist for female education and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, accompanied by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaks in Washington on December 6. [Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool/AFP]

WASHINGTON -- Human rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who survived a shooting by a militant in 2012, during a visit to Washington on Monday (December 6) argued for stronger US support of Afghan girls and women.

"Afghanistan right now is the only country where girls do not have access to secondary education. They are prohibited from learning," said the 24-year-old, who works with female Afghan activists, in remarks standing alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A gunman shot Yousafzai on her school bus in Swat, Pakistan, in 2012. She recovered in England, where she now lives.

Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

The fugitive insurgent leader who ordered her assassination, Mullah Fazlullah, was killed in Kunar province in 2018.

Plea from Afghan girl

"This is the message of Afghan girls right now: we want to see a world where all girls can have access to safe and quality education," she added, while presenting a letter addressed to US President Joe Biden from a 15-year-old Afghan girl named Sotodah.

"The longer schools and universities remain closed to girls, the more it will shade hope for [their] future," Sotodah wrote, according to Yousafzai.

"Girls' education is a powerful tool for bringing peace and security," added Yousafzai, reading the letter. "If girls don't learn, Afghanistan will suffer, too."

Secondary schools in Afghanistan, where the previous government fell in August, have reopened for boys only, and only men are permitted to teach.

"We hope that the United States, together with the UN [United Nations], will take immediate actions to ensure that girls are allowed to go back to their schools as soon as possible," Yousafzai noted before a private meeting with Blinken.

Blinken saluted Yousafzai as "an inspiration to girls and women around the world," and someone who "by her work, by her efforts, is making a real difference."

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