Malala Yousafzai, the courageous young advocate for universal education and girls’ rights, will celebrate her 16th birthday in New York City. In her first public speech since being shot by the Taliban in Pakistan a year ago, on July 12th Malala will lead a gathering of young adults from more than 80 countries for a special United Nations Youth Assembly.
In support of reaching the goal of enrolling every child and young person in school by 2015, international youth leaders will meet at UN headquarters in New York and in cities around the world. This is part of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative. The result of this international meeting will be a set of education demands, written by the participating youth, and delivered to the highest leadership of the UN.
This occasion is the perfect opportunity for our teens and tweens to get involved and learn about the global impact they can have on important issues. What can you do to help your t(w)een participate?
Have the Conversation
Does your child know that 57 million children around the world do not go to school, 32 million of whom are girls? How does your teen feel about the fact that tens of millions of students will drop out and never complete secondary school? Does your tween know that 250 million children who go to school never learn to read or write? This especially affects girls.
Research the Issues
Some parents can’t afford to pay school fees, buy uniforms or school supplies. Transport to a school can be difficult and costly. Children, particularly girls, need to work to help the family survive. More than 15 million children and youth are forced into child labor and slavery. Millions of other children who live in areas of conflict have been displaced to refugee camps.
Understand Solutions and Benefits to Action
What happens when every child receives education and basic skills? Poverty can be reduced or eliminated. Health and well-being is improved and becomes a reality. Unemployment is decreased and economies are boosted. How do these factors impact society and community?
Take Action Challenge
The United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign is encouraging supporters to sign a birthday card for Malala. Go to www.girlup.org to see how you and your teens and tweens can add their own birthday wishes for this extraordinary girl.
Though we aren’t able to physically stand next to Malala as she speaks at the UN, we can stand with her by sending a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Join the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education’s A World At School campaign to fight this global education emergency and sign this petition to be delivered to UN leadership on June 12th in honor of Malala Day.
Let’s work together to support Malala and her fight to have every child – boy and girl – get access to the education they need and deserve. We stand with Malala!
Photo credit: Malala, A World at School, with permission
Photo credit: Girl Up, with permission