Malala Yousafzai, an honorary Canadian, urges Canada to act on education of girls around the world

Published: 11:38 GMT, Apr 13, 2017 |

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai is calling on the Canadian government to lead a global effort to prioritize education for girls and refugees.

In an address to Parliament Wednesday, Ms. Yousafzai asked Canada to make girls’ education a central theme of its G7 presidency in 2018, to use its influence to help fill the global education funding gap and to prioritize 12 years of schooling for refugees:

I stand with girls, as someone who knows how it feels to have your right of education taken away and your dreams threatened. I know where I stand. If you stand with me, I ask you to seize every opportunity for girls’ education over the next year.

In her address, she specifically asked Canada to host the upcoming meeting of the Global Partnership for Education (the only global fund solely dedicated to education in developing countries), to bring world leaders together and raise new funding for girls to go to school.

Ms. Yousafzai, 19, was in Ottawa on Wednesday to accept her honorary Canadian citizenship and address Parliament.

Ms. Yousafzai, 19, became an education activist after she survived a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012 as she was leaving school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The terror group targeted her for her campaign against its efforts to deny women education. She now lives in London, where she received medical treatment after she was shot, and is finishing secondary school. Earlier this week, she was appointed a United Nations Messenger of Peace, making her the youngest person to ever hold the UN’s highest honour. She was also the youngest person to win the Nobel peace prize in 2014, at the age of 17.

She becomes the sixth person to receive honorary Canadian citizenship; the other five are the Dalai Lama, the Aga Khan, Mr. Mandela, Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. She is also the youngest person to address Parliament, joining the ranks of the Aga Khan, Nelson Mandela and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.