Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai in U.S. to seek help for Afghan girls

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, met Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai Dec. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Twitter @SecBlinken

Noble Laureate Malala Yousafzai met Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, in Washington, D.C. Dec. 6, 2021, urging the Biden administration to do its utmost to support girls’ education in Afghanistan.

While she is here to talk about equality in girls’ education, Yousafzai said, “… we know that Afghanistan right now is the only country where girls do not have access to secondary education,” Yousafzai said at a press briefing before the start of talks.

“They are prohibited from learning, and I have been working together with Afghan girls and women’s activists, and there is this one message from them: that they should be given the right to work.  They should be able to go to school,” said Yousafzai.

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She quoted from a letter she received from a 15-year-old Afghan girl named Sotodah, who she said, has written to President Biden. She then handed over the letter to Secretary Blinken.

Yousafzai read out the contents of the letter, which said that “the longer schools and universities remain closed to girls, the more it will shade hope for our future phase. Girls’ education is a powerful tool for bringing peace and security.  If girls don’t learn, Afghanistan will suffer, too.  As a girl and as a human being, I need you to know that I have rights.  Women and girls have rights.  Afghans have the right to live in peace, go to school, and play.”

A global advocate for girls’ education, Yousafzai emphasized the need right now for a world where all girls can have access to safe and quality education, “and we hope that the U.S., together with the UN, will take immediate actions to ensure that girls are allowed to go back to their schools as soon as possible, women are able to go back to work, and all the humanitarian assistance that is needed for education there is provided,” Yousafzai urged.

“We know that this has been a challenge, and we want more focus to be given to education, teachers’ salaries, because these are the values that prevent …  the schools from running,” she said.

Secretary Blinken, as he welcomed her, called Yousafzai “truly an inspiration – an inspiration to us, an inspiration to girls and women around the world – but not just an inspiration; someone who by her work, by her efforts, is making a real difference, particularly when it comes to access to education for girls and women, which is a critical issue for President Biden and the United States as well.”
The Biden Administration was keen to hear her ideas “about how we can be more effective in making sure, as we’re working for gender equity, that girls and women have access to education,” Blinken said.

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