Activist Malala Yousafzai tweets for education

BY Larisa Epatko  September 23, 2013 at 6:35 PM EST


Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head last year in an assassination attempt by the Taliban while riding a school bus in the Swat district of northwestern Pakistan. She’s pictured here in September, post-recovery. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

NEW YORK — Even though Malala Yousafzai, the young education activist who was shot by a member of the Taliban, started out as a blogger for the BBC, she normally doesn’t tweet. But Monday afternoon, she typed her first 140-character message in a Twitter chat for her organization, the @MalalaFund.

Along with the chat, Yousafzai made a plug for educating all youth during an on-stage appearance Monday at the Social Good Summit in New York City.

She said children everywhere need a chance to get educated. “Children in Pakistan, children in India, children in Afghanistan. They are suffering from child labor, they are suffering from child trafficking, they are suffering from terrorism. We need to stand up for them, we need to speak up for them. And we must do it now. We should not wait for someone else. We should not wait for the governments to do it. It is our duty.”

Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, said in many parts of the world, girls’ “wings are clipped” from the beginning. But he wanted to make Malala free and independent. “Now it’s up to her what she chooses for herself.”

Malala’s brothers are less reverent, she said, recalling a recent remark one of them made. “Sitting with my youngest brother, who is 9, he said, ‘I can’t understand why you’re getting awards. What have you done?’

“They’re still naughty,” she said, laughing and covering the right side of her crooked smile.

The Malala Fund website invites people to share their stories and express why education is important to them.

The young activist is a representation of millions of others around the world seeking an education, said Chernor Bah, chairman of the Youth Advocacy Group at the U.N. Global Education First Initiative. Rather than focusing on the challenges, “she makes it about hope and the power of education.”

This report was updated Sept. 24 with additional quotes. The reporting was supported in part by the U.N. Foundation’s press fellowship program.