Dr. Nafis Sadik, a Pakistani physician, United Nations Foundation Board Member, and former Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, released the following statement today on the urgent need to stand up for the rights of girls everywhere and in response to the attack on Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban because she championed education for girls.
“Malala Yousafzai embodies courage, and the attack on her and two other students is a reprehensible act of cowardice. There is no place in society for violence against girls for exercising their fundamental human rights. My thoughts are with Malala, the two other girls who were injured, and their families during this difficult time.
“This week we marked the first-ever International Day of the Girl – a day to recognize the value of girls and to advocate for their rights. When girls are healthy, educated, and empowered, they can lift up their families, communities, and countries. Yet, Malala’s attack is a stark and sober reminder of how much work we have left to do to protect and empower girls. The Taliban attackers showed the world what they fear most: the education of girls.
“They cannot and will not prevail though in extinguishing the light of learning for girls. The United Nations and many others are working to safeguard the rights of girls and to expand access to education, health care, and economic opportunities. Let us all join in pushing for progress, so one day every girl will have the chance to realize her aspirations.
“Malala and the brave girls like her who I have met in Pakistan and throughout the world give me hope for the future. We must stand with them and send an unmistakable message that we will not tolerate the discrimination and abuse of girls. In the face of injustice, Malala refused to stay silent, and so must we.”