Malala Yousafzai receives standing ovation at UN

The 16-year-old female activist who survived an attack by the Taliban spoke to the UN about education

By Prachi Gupta
Published July 12, 2013 2:49PM (EDT)

Female activist Malala Yousafzai, who in October was shot in the head during an assassination attempt by the Taliban, addressed the United Nations assembly Friday -- her 16th birthday.

Despite her near-death experience, Yousafzai, who has been been named one of Time's Most Influential People, continues to advocate for education and equal rights for women. The teen refused to be intimidated by the Taliban. "They thought bullets would silence us but they failed," she said.

Yousafzai emphasized the power of education, saying, "Our words can change the whole world because we are all together, united for the goal of education."

"I want education for the sons and daughters of all the Taliban."

The UN has hailed July 12 as Malala Day in her honor, but Yousafzai explained that the day is for women's rights. "Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy, every girl who has raised their voice for their rights," she said.

At the end of her speech, Yousafzai received a standing ovation. As Reuters executive editor Jim Roberts noted on Twitter, "Imagine being 16. Imagine being shot in the head. Imagine speaking to the UN. Unimaginable poise and courage."

Watch The United Nations webcast live:

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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