Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani girl who drew global attention after being shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls' education, will celebrate her 16th birthday by delivering her first public address at the United Nations.
- Pakistani girl shot by Taliban released from U.K. hospital
The teenager is being honoured at the UN headquarters in New York City, where she will address the UN Youth Assembly with a speech advocating global education.
The UN has designated July 12 as Malala Day.
The teen, along with former British prime minister Gordon Brown — now the UN special envoy for global education — will deliver a petition with 350,000 signatures, demanding education for all.
Yousufzai has become an international figure as a symbol of resistance to the Taliban’s efforts to deny women's rights. She is also among the nominees for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
Yousufzai was brought to Britain from Pakistan’s Swat Valley for specialist treatment after she was shot in the head at point-blank range by a gunmen last October.
She left a hospital in Birmingham in February following a surgery in which doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate and inserted a cochlear implant to help restore hearing on her left side.
Some 500 youth leaders from 85 countries will be on hand in New York to hear Yousufzai speak. This will be her first public speech after the attack in October.
Her speech comes amid new UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) research showing 48.5 million children of primary school age and living in areas of armed conflict are not getting an education.
According to the report by UNESCO and the Save the Children aid agency, the total number of children of primary school age who are not getting an education has fallen from 60 million in 2008 to 57 million in 2011, but during that period the percentage of youth in conflict-affected countries who aren’t at primary school rose from 42 per cent to 50 per cent.
In Syria, about 3,900 schools have either been destroyed, damaged or are occupied for non-educational purposes, the report released on Friday said.
The report says more than a fifth of Syrian schools have been made unusable since the conflict began in March 2011.