All children deserve the right to an education; inclusive education is a key part of what we strive to achieve. We were therefore shocked and saddened by the story of 14 year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for herself after girls were banned from school.
The young girl is well-known in Pakistan for campaigning and writing about women’s rights after the Taliban had either closed or destroyed 150 schools in 2009 to stop girls from attending them.
A gunman attacked Malala and two other girls and, shortly after, the Taliban militant group claimed responsibility. Although doctors in the Saidu Sharif hospital were able to successfully remove the bullets, Malala’s condition remained critical and she is currently being treated in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after arriving in the UK last Monday by air ambulance.
She remains surrounded by police since the Taliban have threatened to attack her again if she survives, as a warning to other youngsters.
Malala has shown incredible bravery in defending her own right, and those of others, to an education. We strongly believe that as well as being a fundamental human right, education for girls is crucial to enhance women’s rights’ worldwide and to help put an end to the poverty cycle.
And at the end of the week which has hosted the Anti-Slavery Day, we have been reflecting on the extent to which our education interventions can also help to break the cycle of modern day forms of slavery, including forced labour, domestic servitude, human trafficking and prostitution.
Just on the other side of India, our Centre for Educational Support in Kathmandu, Nepal, successfully targets the cycle of trafficking and prostitution. While our partner organisations support and rehabilitate rescued and returning mothers, we support and rehabilitate their children to reduce the risk of the children becoming prostitutes themselves. One of the key elements vital to the success of this programme is ensuring the children are given access to education which can truly change the lives of these young girls.
We have already seen the incredible benefits of this project and will continue to support these children and their right to education.
So, as we continue to hope that Malala makes a full recovery from her traumatic experience, it is also important to highlight that Malala wasn’t just standing up for her own education, she was standing up for every child’s right to be free from a fate that could be described as a modern day form of slavery.