Address given at an Observance for Commonwealth Day 2014

10 March 2014 at 15:00 pm

Malala Yousafzai

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen and my dear friends.

It is a great honour for me to be here in the Commonwealth family which is a family of people and a family of nations with diversity. And I feel very happy and excited that my school headmistress Dr Weeks, my teachers and my friends are also here today.

Dear sisters and brothers, in this world, we are living as family of nations and it is necessary that each member of this family receives equal opportunities of economical, social and especially educational growth. Even if one member stays behind, the rest can never go forward.

I would like to highlight two main issues on which we should take an action and raise our voices.

The first one is the lack of education. In many parts of the world – including within the Commonwealth – access to education is denied to children. Especially girls are the most affected ones.

Children face challenges every day in their quest to be educated.

In Pakistan, in India and in many parts of Africa there are barriers to education such as poverty, lack of access to schools, violence and cultural opposition.

It should be the top priority that each country in the Commonwealth and all over the world has a 100% of school attendance of both girls and boys. We need to work and invest more on education to build up a bright future and protect children suffering from terrorism, child labour, child trafficking, and gender abuse such as FGM.

The future success of the Commonwealth – like the future success of any team – depends on the next generation. Today’s children will be tomorrow’s leaders – tomorrow’s politicians, tomorrow’s business people, tomorrow’s doctors and tomorrow’s teachers.

Your Majesty and dear sisters and brothers, the second important goal should be women's empowerment. Some of you may know and some of you may not, that women own only 1% of the total land in the world. In some fields, women and men do the exactly same job but women are paid less than men. Women get fewer opportunities in politics, businesses and other economical industries and in the EU, women comprise only 3% of chief execs of major companies.

In my opinion, for a country's development, it is essential that women are accepted with equal rights.

We should take an action for women's rights because we can never ever succeed when half of us are held back.

Children and people are the most valuable resource of a country. So, we must work together to ensure that girls – and all children – are protected, respected and helped to flourish. We need to work together to protect children from terrorism, if they are not given pens, then, they will be given guns by the terrorists.

And finally, let us promise ourselves that we will make our world a beautiful place where we there is peace, love, friendship, equality, justice, respect, tolerance and harmony.

Thank you.

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