WASHINGTON (AFP) – Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl activist who has become a world champion of girls’ rights, called Friday for the World Bank to make education its top priority.
Seated on a stage with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a one-on-one presentation in Washington, the 16-year-old Malala delivered a poised, articulate and impassioned plea for children’s education.
Asked by Kim for her advice to the World Bank, Malala noted that organizations spend much of their money on health, AIDS and other programs.
“But I think all those organizations must make education their top priority,” she said. That focus would fight child labor, child trafficking, poverty and AIDS.
Kim announced the World Bank was donating $200 million to the Malala Fund, a foundation she has launched to help girls around the world go to school and promote universal access to education.
Malala said that she decided to launch the fund because she needed to do “work on the ground” to promote education, in addition to speaking out about the issues.
Malala was shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban on October 9, 2012, for speaking out against their ideology and has gone on to become a global ambassador for the right of all children to go to school.
Asked by a girl in the audience how she lives a normal teenage life, Malala replied: “I have accepted this busy life for a reason… the education of every child.”
Earlier Friday, Malala, who had been nominated to win the Nobel Peace Prize, congratulated the winners, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
“The OPCW is an important organization working on the ground to help rid the world of chemical weapons. I would like to congratulate them on this much-deserved global recognition,” she said.
On Thursday she won the European Union’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize, drawing a fresh murder threat from the Taliban.
That same day the World Bank’s Kim called Malala “a powerful symbol of hope” at a news conference as World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings got underway.