Youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai’s recent trip to Expo 2020 Dubai included her championing rights to women’s education. The Pakistani activist visited the world fair with her family and stopped by at the Women’s Pavilion where she urged nations to pay attention to the voices of young girls.
“There are still more than 127 million girls who are deprived of education,” she said. “My mission remains the same — for these girls to have access to safe, free quality and complete education. I believe in the voice of girls. I want you to listen to the voices of girls and young women around the world – not to just sit here and share stories, but to participate in these conversations with them.”
She added, “These women also need to be in the rooms where decisions are being made about their future so they can actively participate. If you want to see change, you have to believe in it. I still have an ambition that one day there will be zero girls out of school.” Highlighting how the progress of women relates to that of the world, the 24-year-old remarked that the global economy would increase by USD 30 trillion dollars if access to education for every girl was ensured.
Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, the Oxford University alum’s speech touched upon the inequality and hurdles women have to go through in accessing education. “They face domestic violence and harassment,” she said. “These are the issues we must address. We all know it’s possible to solve these problems, and we can make that happen. We cannot deny the reality of people being discriminated against because of their gender. If you look at Afghanistan, where girls in secondary schools are denied their right to education, we should not be living in this world. On International Women’s Day, I hope we continue emphasizing this message; through repeated activism and advocacy, we have seen huge progress.”
A year after establishing the Malala Fund in 2013, Yousafzai, aged 17, made history by earning the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy. During her visit to the Women’s Pavilion, she was accompanied by Ms Hind Alowais, senior vice president of International Participants department at Expo 2020 Dubai and the United Nations Pavilion; Mr Maher Nasser, commissioner-general for United Nations’ Participation in Expo 2020; and Dr Dena Assaf, United Nations resident coordinator for the UAE and deputy commissioner general for the UN at Expo 2020.
“I learnt a lot on my tour about the role of women in different areas, from agriculture to financing, space, education and leadership,” she said of her trip. “There’s so much optimism and enthusiasm for the future when we educate and empower women, and, at the same time, there’s a reminder that millions of women do not have access to equal rights.”
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