There was actually some good news at the United Nations today: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head in a Taliban assassination attempt, spoke at the UN to mark her 16th birthday.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world,” Ms. Yousafzai said, in an impassioned address to the UN Youth Assembly.
Ms. Yousafzai told the gathering that the Taliban’s attack nine months ago changed nothing in her life, except that “weakness, fear and hopelessness died.”
“The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens,” she said. “The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.” Urging worldwide action against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, she said: “Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”
“…So here I stand,” Ms. Yousafzai declared before the Assembly, “one girl among many. I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys. I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.
Describing the terrible October 2012 incident that only strengthened her resolve, she said the Taliban shot her on the left side of her forehead. “They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed,” she said, adding that the incident instead gave birth to “thousands of voices.”
“The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.”
Not exactly hanging their heads in shame about their ambushes on schoolchildren, the Taliban have added even more children to the hit list since Malala survived their attack.