Malala reunited with Shazia and Kainat during visit to Scotland
Kainat, Malala and Shazia prepare a brick for the new Burntisland Primary School in Fife
Global education campaigner Malala Yousafzai has met some of the world’s most famous faces over the last year – not least Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama.
But the meeting that must have brought her the most joy came last weekend in Scotland as she was reunited with her friends Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz – the two girls who were also injured in the fateful bus attack last October.
The three teenagers met up for the first time since then in Edinburgh, taking part in the launch event of the Global Citizenship Commission, a joint initiative between UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and New York University.
The Commission will re-examine the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, written in 1948, and consider how it might need updating. With an audience of 1200 on their feet to applaud several times, Malala, Shazia and Kainat spoke in support of the campaign to get A World at School, and of the importance of recognising education – particularly of girls – as an inalienable right.
Having received an honorary degree from Edinburgh University – which she held aloft to cheers from the crowd – Malala told a packed McEwan Hall: “After I was shot the terrorists thought that I would not continue the struggle for education, but not only did I not stop my campaign but now Kainat and Shazia are with me and they are also supporting me.
“They are not afraid, we are not afraid and now people are supporting us and that is the greatest courage, and that is the weapon that we have got, the unity and togetherness.”
Malala and Ziauddin with the plaque dedicating the new Burntisland Primary School library to her
Following the event, the girls travelled to Burntisland, in Fife, in Mr Brown’s parliamentary constituency. In spite of the bad weather, there was palpable excitement in the coastal town as, in a powerful demonstration of the global unity Malala had spoken of, the girls prepared and laid a lintel stone as part of the “topping out” ceremony of a brand new primary school. The school will also name its new library after Malala.
Edinburgh University Principal Timothy O’Shea, Malala Yousafzai, Gordon Brown and Ziauddin Yousafzai at the University (© University of Edinburgh 2013)
After writing her name in a block to be included in the building, due to open next year, Malala explained: “This might look like an ordinary building but we must remember this is not only a building, it is also our future.”
Mr Brown, who as well as championing Malala’s cause since she was attacked, has through his office supported Shazia and Kainat as they have moved to the UK to study, said: “Malala has proved to us that neither threats, intimidation nor violence will ever silence her voice to speak up for what she believes, and what I believe, is one of the great civil rights struggles of our time.
“I’m so pleased to see her reunited with Shazia and Kainat, two young women equally determined that every girl and boy should enjoy the most basic of human rights: a secure, safe place at school.”