Pakistani Schoolgirl Malala Says Taliban "Failed"

By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
Wearing a shawl once owned by the assassinated Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, Malala addressed a crowd that included the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and former UK prime minister and now Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown.

CBS News

(CBS News) In her first public speech since being shot by the Taliban last year for simply attending school, Pakistani schoolgirl and education activist, Malala Yousafzai spoke at the UN headquarters in New York Friday, the day of her 16th birthday.

"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 was born," she said.

Wearing a shawl once owned by the assassinated Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, Malala addressed a crowd that included the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and former UK prime minister and now Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, as well as over 500 youth leaders.

"On the 9 October, 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought the bullet would silence us, but they failed. Out of the silence came thousands of voices," said Malala.

The Malala Day event was organized by Brown, who introduced her, calling her, "An inspiration to us all."

Wishing her a happy birthday, Brown added, "The words that the Taliban never wanted her to hear, 'Happy 16th Birthday Malala.'"

"The support for Malala, in the Trusteeship Council at the U.N., was palpable," reports CBS News' Pamela Falk, who was in the room when she spoke, "she was poised and inspiring, and pointed her finger as if to count, when she said that one child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world."

She smiled broadly, Falk said, when the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, talked about Skyping her as she recovered from the shooting and she beamed when, as any 16 year old would do, when the diplomats and youth delegates sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

"Gauging from the looks on the diplomats' faces, and the emotional response of her mother, her simple words about the harsh treatment of girls and other children trying to study, had an impact," Falk added, "and her perseverance and determination brought an unusual reaction, in the usually-composed world body, when diplomats shouted her name and clapped at her call for education for all children."

On a day she thought she may never see, Malala also presented a petition of 4 million signatures to the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, demanding education for all.

She took the stage to cheers, saying: "Here I stand, 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. Those who have fought for their rights - their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated."

Calling for peace, education and equality, Malala said she was not here to speak in personal revenge against the Taliban. "I want education for the sons and daughters' of the Taliban," she said.

Adding that terrorists were misusing Islam, she said her religion was one "of peace, humanity and brotherhood."

"We realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced," said Malala. "We realized the importance of pens and books when we saw guns."

Malala called upon all governments to ensure a free, compulsory education for all children all across the world.

"Let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge," she said.

"Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first," Malala concluded, to a standing ovation.

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