July 11, 2013

Malala Day Around the World

A couple of years ago I was chatting to two girls, one from Sierra Leone and the other from Pakistan, about their favourite part of spending a week in New York as part of a youth delegation at the UN. I expected the answers to be about some of the things they experienced during the week: seeing snow fall for the first time, in Time Square of all places; meeting their Prime Minister; or speaking on a panel in front of representatives from all Member States of the UN.

I was wrong. Both girls had the same answer - meeting other girls in the youth delegation from different countries and realising that they were not alone in the struggles they faced. In this experience they had found a new confidence and inspiration, a feeling of shared experience with other girls, and boys, from communities around the world.

It is this same sense of solidarity, which, on a global level, is the essence of what we are trying to achieve with Malala Day on July 12. With Malala's courage and commitment as a guiding force, young people from around the world will come together in their belief that all children have the right to education. Our hope is that they will stay together, too: a new global youth movement for education.

At the UN headquarters in New York, young people from over eighty countries will take part in the passing of the first ever UN youth resolution, called "The Education We Want". This resolution is written by youth, and will set out clear recommendations for how to get more children into school, and learning.

While New York is the epicentre of the day's events, Malala Day will be a truly global event.

There will be events across Africa, from a youth parliament event in Burundi, to a school birthday party for Malala in Kenya, and a university-hosted debate in South Africa. Events across Asia, from youth showing support for Malala in her own country, to activities nearby countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines. There will also be events in London and Melbourne, cities representing two countries who show incredible support for the right of all children around the world to be in school and learning by 2015.

The online debate and dialogue is already underway and young campaigners are planning to come together online to be part of this day. There are also other youth led events taking place around the world to show solidarity with Malala and to plan how to turn this new momentum into real change in their countries - putting all children, no matter what their background, into school.

Malala Day is a day when young people around the world will show how much their education means to them. It is their right to learn, and they are going to stand up for that right.

- Emily Laurie, Senior Education Campaign Coordinator for A World at School

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