Malala at UNThe Pakistani child education activist who was shot in the head nine months ago by Taliban militants celebrated her 16th birthday by delivering a speech at the United Nations.

Speaking to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the 500 youth and dignitaries gathered, Malala Yousafzai said that the gunmen could not silence her because knowledge and education is more powerful than their bullets.

“Terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died,” she said. “Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala.”

She thanked doctors in Pakistan and Britain who saved her life and spoke as “one girl” speaking for all girls about the need for education.

”One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”

“By targeting Malala,” said the Secretary-General, who proclaimed Friday as ‘Malala Day’, “the extremists showed what they feared the most, a girl with a book.”

Clothed in a shawl that belonged to the late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and with her parents and two brothers in the audience, she said, “’Malala Day’ is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy, and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.

Yousafzai came to the U.N. to deliver to the secretary-general a petition signed by more than four million people, calling on the international assembly to fund new teachers, schools and books, and calling on governments to ensure free and compulsory education worldwide for every child. She urged a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism.

“Let’s pick up our books and our pens,” she said. “They are our most powerful weapons.”

Ban said 57 million children around the world do not attend primary school. Many of them live in conflict zones and most are girls. Last September, Ban launched the Global Education First Initiative with the goal of putting every child in school by the end of 2015 and improving the quality of learning.

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(Source materials from VOA)

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