Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Malala meets escaped Nigerian girls

Malala Yousafzai will meet some of the girls who escaped from the Boko Haram

Malala Yousafzai, the teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban and made a miraculous recovery to become a global campaigner for education and women's rights, will meet some of the girls who escaped from the notorious Boko Haram in a bid to draw attention to their cause.

The 17-year-old, who arrived in Nigeria yesterday on her birthday, said she made the trip with her father Ziauddin in order to "honour the stories of these brave girls".

More than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the militant Islamist group in April, and many are still being held captive.

Malala, who is from Pakistan but moved to Birmingham last year, gained worldwide attention after surviving the brutal assassination attempt in October 2012 and has continued to campaign for the right of girls across the globe to have an education ever since.

In a statement after her arrival in Nigeria, and ahead of what has become designated 'Malala Day' tomorrow, the schoolgirl said: " This Malala Day, I have come to Nigeria, to honour the stories of these brave girls who have sacrificed so much to get an education and achieve their dreams.

"Whether the schoolgirls still held in captivity by Boko Haram, to the school children caught in the crossfire of escalating violence in Gaza and Israel, to the 66 million girls today who can't get the education that is their human right, my birthday wish this year is that we all raise our voices so that those without a voice can be heard.

"We can be stronger than fear, hatred, violence and poverty. The road to education, peace and equality is long, but we will succeed if we walk it together."

During her trip Malala will meet some of the girls who escaped from the Boko Haram, as well as families of those who are still being held.

She will also meet Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, charities working for girls' education, and local organisers of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, which became famous when high-profile celebrities including Angelina Jolie and America's First Lady Michelle Obama posed for pictures for the campaign on Twitter.

Malala, who will make an address at lunchtime tomorrow, began her first trip to Africa earlier this month when she visited Kenya.

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