By Elizabeth Willoughby on
In her BBC diary blog, 11-year-old Malala Yousafzai wrote, “I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to the market. I have the right to speak. I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is an education, and I am afraid of no one.”
Actor and human rights advocate Angelina Jolie recited those words at the Women in the World Conference in New York earlier this month, and then described what happened six months ago to the now 15-year-old Pakistani girl, when Taliban gunmen boarded her school bus: “They shot her at point blank range in the head, and made her stronger. In a brutal attempt to silence her voice, it grew louder and she more resolute, calling on the entire world to ensure the right for every girl and boy to an education.”
Together with Vital Voices and Women in the World, Jolie has created Malala Fund to support the girl’s cause; Malala Yousafzai will be in charge of it. On video at the conference, Malala said that it was the happiest moment of her life to announce that she will use money from the fund to enable 40 girls between age five and twelve to attend school in her homeland. By providing the girls’ families with a monthly stipend, the girls need not be forced into domestic labor positions. “I invite all of you to support Malala Fund and let us turn the education of 40 girls into 40 million girls,” she said.
Also on stage at the conference were celebrities Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey speaking about great women they admire, but former American First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke about Malala: “[She was] recognised by the Taliban at age 14 as a threat. They were right. … They thought if they silenced Malala, and thank God they didn’t, that not only she but her cause would die. But instead, they inspired millions of Pakistanis to finally say, ‘Enough is enough’.”
“Women are not victims,” said Clinton. “We are agents of change. We are drivers of progress. We are makers of peace. All we need is a fighting chance. … Let’s keep telling the world over and over again that yes, women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights, once and for all.”
Copyright © 2013 Look to the Stars