UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, will host a high-level advocacy event called “Stand up for Malala – Stand up for girls’ right to education” on 10 December in Paris. The event, which will coindide with the United Nations Human Rights Day, is designed to generate political will and accelerate action in favour of every girl’s right to go to school.
On 9 October 2012, the international community was shaken by the brutal assassination attempt against Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year-old girl from Pakistan. Malala was attacked by extremists while she was on a school bus, because of her known efforts from an early age to promote the right to education for girls, defying obstacles and even death threats. Pakistan reacted firmly and expressed its determination to renew commitment and impetus to protect and promote girls education.
“The assassination attempt on Malala represents an extreme violation of the right of girls to an education. In far too many countries, girls are deprived of this fundamental human right that is the key to dignity and a decent future. Discrimination starts early in a girl’s life. We must harness the global movement of solidarity around Malala to strengthen political will and put in place all the measures required to ensure that all girls have a place in school.”
Historically girls and women have been disproportionately excluded from education worldwide. They face more challenges and have fewer opportunities to access, complete and benefit from education than boys. According to the 2012 UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report, girls are the majority of the 61 million children that are out of school at the primary level alone.
Although school enrollment in Pakistan has increased by over 3 million since 1999, more than 5 million children are still without an education; 63% of them –over 3 million–, are girls. Two-thirds of the 49.5 million illiterate Pakistani adults are women. Despite these difficulties, the percentage of poorest girls out of school has fallen from 78% to 62%.
The event will mobilize Heads of State and government, leaders of UN agencies, international and bilateral organizations, foundations, donors, the private sector, civil society, academics, religious leaders, eminent personalities, the media and other stakeholders in an effort to reinforce commitment in favour of programmes for girls’ education.