By Luka Mutinda, 2013 Ladis Kristof Fellow, AIUSA National Youth Action Committee Co-Chair
Nine months ago, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai stood up in brave defiance of the Taliban’s ban against female education. She was shot by Taliban gunmen in a senseless act of violence, but her powerful statement drew attention to education rights for millions of young people across the world.
This week, hundreds of youth leaders from around the world will come together at the United Nations headquarters in New York to stand in solidarity with Malala and the millions of young people who are denied access to education.
This Friday, Malala will be making her first public appearance since the shooting last fall. To commemorate her 16th birthday and highlight the urgency of the global education crisis, youth leaders will stand with Malala on July 12th to present the first-ever set of education policy demands drafted by youth.
I will join Emil Gronwall, an Amnesty youth leader from Sweden in representing Amnesty International at this historic event to address the UN youth assembly and deliver the “The Youth Resolution: The Education We Want” to world leaders in a collaborative global UN Youth Takeover.
Education is itself a human right, but it is also an essential tool in promoting freedom of speech, and other human rights worldwide. Defending the right to education for girls is especially important, since globally they are more likely to be excluded from education than boys.
Targeted violence is a key factor that prevents many girls from pursuing education. As a global community, we cannot ignore the injustice of violence as an obstacle for girls to attend school. We must act and we must do so now.
Amnesty International youth activists have organized numerous actions to support the right to education for all young people. Whether mobilizing peers to petition for the education rights of Palestinian students in Gaza, rallying to stop violence against women that also impedes education, or sending heartfelt messages of support to Malala Yousafzai and her classmates, young Amnesty activists have been instrumental in bringing the education crisis to the forefront of human rights advocacy.
The diligence and commitment to human rights activism that I’ve found in our youth activists is incredibly inspiring. I am honored to represent our organization at this event and look forward to sharing the journey to #Malaladay with you through live tweets @AIUSAYOUTH.