Less than a year ago, a Taliban gunman boarded a school bus in Pakistan, approached 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, aimed a pistol at her head, and pulled the trigger.
The Taliban made a big mistake. Malala survived, and has become an icon for women's rights and access to education.
Today she turned 16, and she just gave her first public remarks since the assassination attempt before the UN General Assembly.
"Today is not my day, today is the day of every woman, every boy, and every girl who has raised their voice for their rights," she said.
Draped in a pink shawl that belonged to another victim of the Taliban in Pakistan, assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, she took the podium and made an impassioned plea for peace and equality.
"Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists, millions have been injured. I am just one of them," she said. "They thought that the bullet would silence us, but they failed."
She decried the Taliban, and the perception that they work in the name of Islam.
"The power of education freightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them," she said. "They think that God is a tiny little conservative thing who would send girls to Hell just for going to school."
Malala was targeted by the Taliban because even from a young age, she was an outpsoken advocate for women's rights and access to eduction. She wrote a diary for the BBC, profiling the difficulties in going to school as a girl in Pakistan's Swat Valley.
After she was shot, her road to recovery was arduous but remarkable. She was moved from Pakistan to London to receive better medical care. She said today that she emerged stronger from the incident.
"Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died," she said. "Strength, fervor, and courage was born."
“There is a new superpower in the world, and it is the power of young people, the power of you,” said former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in introducing Malala. Brown now serves as a UN Special Envoy on global education.
Watch the full speech:
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