Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for girls’ education, told world leaders at the United Nations on Wednesday to send books, not guns, to war-torn countries such as Afghanistan.
"Instead of sending weapons, instead of sending tanks to Afghanistan and all these countries which are suffering from terrorism, send books," the 16-year-old schoolgirl said in a speech at the first anniversary of the Global Education First initiative at the UN in New York.
"Instead of sending tanks, send pens. Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers. This is the only way we can fight for education..."
The initiative was launched last September by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, and aims to ensure all children have access to schools and quality education.
Among the guests at Thursday’s event were Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Croatian Premier Ivo Josipovic.
Yousafzai has become a global advocate for children’s education since her near-death experience in October last year when Taliban gunmen shot her in the head as she rode a bus to school.
Gravely wounded, the schoolgirl was taken to the UK for life-saving surgery.