Malala Yousafzai set the tone for the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on Friday by calling for every child, especially those affected by war, terrorism and the refugee crisis, to get access to safe, free and quality education.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner addressed the U.N. as it prepared to adopt its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to empower the world’s most underserved communities. Part of this effort includes providing inclusive and equitable quality education by 2030.
Since she was nearly killed by Taliban for her vocal support of girls’ education, Yousafzai has ramped up her advocacy efforts to ensure that that education goal is met.
"Education is not a privilege, it is a right," said Yousafzai, who was accompanied by 193 youth, representing the countries of the U.N. "Education is hope, education is peace."
Yousafzai implored the U.N. and global leaders to provide education to all children everywhere, specifically highlighting the toll the refugee crisis is taking on access to schooling for young people.
“Promise [young people] peace. Promise them prosperity. Promise them an education ... that wars cannot stop them from learning,” she said.
She also called on world leaders to commit to upholding past commitments and reminded the world that “Bring Back Our Girls” is still a demand that hasn't been fulfilled.
“Promise that our sisters abducted by Boko Haram will be brought back,” Yousafzai said in reference to the more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria, last year.
Her visit on Friday to the U.N. coincides with a number of Yousafzai’s latest education initiatives.
On Wednesday she launched a global education campaign, Stand #withMalala.
The initiative encourages supporters to tell their leaders to offer 12 free years of education to all children, build awareness by spreading the hashtag on social media and donating to the Malala Fund, an organization that partners with on-the-ground groups to bring education to children in need across the world.
And on Oct. 2, “I am Malala,” a documentary about Yousafzai’s life, struggles and accomplishments, is scheduled to hit theaters.
One of those noteworthy accomplishments included her building a school in Lebanon for Syrian refugee girls in July in honor of her 18th birthday.
Ultimately, Yousafzai asked everyone in attendance at the U.N. and watching her address online to take part in creating the world she was calling for.
"The world needs a change. It cannot change itself. It's me, it's you, it's all of us who have to bring that."
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