Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Malala hails power of education

Malala Yousafzai, gives a speech after she received the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience award for 2013 at a ceremony in the Mansion House Dublin

A teenager who was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan after campaigning for women's rights has called for education to be used as a weapon against war.

As Malala Yousafzai was named an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, the 16-year-old urged Governments around the world to take action against inequality.

"With this powerful weapon of knowledge and education, we can fight against wars, terrorism, child labour and inequality," Malala said.

"The only tools that are needed are a pen and a book to get us on our way to an enlightened future for one and all."

Malala, an advocate for equal access to education, was honoured at a ceremony in Dublin.

She follows in the footsteps of some of the world's greatest campaigners like Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela.

The teenager said war continues to be waged and human rights neglected all over the world.

"Children are suffering from child labour and child trafficking in many countries, women have been victims of sexual violence, enforced marriages and domestic labour," Malala said.

"They are not accepted as human beings. But inferior, neglected and marginalised, women are deprived of their basic right of equality and freedom and justice."

She said campaigners need to find a solution to these problems instead of just talking about them.

"You may be asking yourselves, 'what is the solution?'" she added.

"I believe the only solution is education, education, education."

The 16-year-old schoolgirl was flown from Pakistan to the UK for emergency treatment last October after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman.

She was targeted by the Taliban after campaigning for girls' rights to attend school.

Surgeons who treated her said she came within inches of death when a bullet grazed her brain.

U2 star and activist Bono presented Malala with the prestigious Amnesty award.

He said she had to make a quick getaway from the ceremony to catch a flight home to make it to school on time tomorrow.

"Tonight we're not standing," Bono added.

"We're not standing because we're floored. We're floored because we're in the presence of this once in a century kind of courage."

He said Malala's courage was moving the world forward in its journey towards equality.

The American singer Harry Belafonte was also honoured at the Amnesty event in the Mansion House in the Irish capital for his work on human rights and social justice.

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters presented the King of Calypso with the honour.

The Ambassador of Conscience award is the human rights group's most prestigious award and recipients are selected for showing exceptional leadership in the fight to protect and promote human rights and conscience.

Amnesty said this year's winners have "used their individual voice to speak out on the part of many and, while separated by age, background and geography, they are united in their dedication to using education and art to overcome ignorance and brutality".

The award was inspired by a poem written for Amnesty by the late Seamus Heaney, called From the Republic of Conscience, and it aims to promote Amnesty's work by association with the life, work and example of its ambassadors.

The Nobel laureate, who died suddenly at the end of last month, had been due to attend the ceremony and read the poem.

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