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The Powerful Lessons from Malala Yousafzai's UN Speech

Discover the powerful lessons from Malala Yousafzai's inspiring UN speech. Learn how her words advocate for education, equality, and peace worldwide.


Famous speeches of Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai speech in 2013 at the United Nations was an example of passionate advocacy for education as a fundamental right for all children, especially girls, emphasizing the transformative power of knowledge in shaping a better world. Malala's journey from a remote village in Pakistan to the halls of Oxford University and the United Nations is a story of personal triumph and a testament to one voice's power to inspire global change. Her legacy reminds us that "the pen is mightier than the sword."

Early activism

The beginning of the journey

Malala Yousafzai became famous at 11 when she began writing a diary for the BBC World Service in Urdu, under the pseudonym Gul Makai, describing life under Taliban rule.

In her blog, Malala shared the truth about the closure of schools for girls. Since then, Malala and members of her family have regularly received threats.

Attack and recovery

In October 2012, Taliban extremists attacked Malala because of her campaign to support education for Pakistani girls. She received a severe bullet wound in the head and almost died. After surgery and rehabilitation in Great Britain, the girl, with the participation of journalist Christine Lamb, wrote a memoir, "I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot".

In 2013, Malala was awarded the UN Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. In 2014, Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "the fight against the oppression of young people and for their right to education," becoming the youngest laureate in the award's history. In 2017, she became a United Nations Messenger of Peace. 

Key speeches analysis

Internationally recognized speaker Malala Yousafzai has addressed numerous audiences worldwide, including the United Nations General Assembly, the G7 Meeting, and the Canadian Parliament. She aims to raise awareness of girls' education's social and economic impact and empower them to reach their potential.

Malala Yousafzai succeeds in rhetoric. Her speeches catch, are quoted, and attract attention. She speaks confidently and even knows how to joke during her speeches, which creates a unique atmosphere when the halls of the most influential organizations in the world are filled with sincere laughter and applause.

UN speech on her 16th birthday

In 2013, in New York, the 16-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai addressed hundreds of United Nations Youth Assembly delegates and thousands of spectators without bitterness or malice, with mercy and confidence. Malala received a standing ovation. It was the first time Malala spoke in public after the attack.

Malala Day

On July 12, 2013, the United Nations celebrated Malala Day. It is now remembered every year as a symbol of education activism. This event brought together hundreds of young leaders to urge world leaders to ensure free and compulsory education for every child worldwide. The meeting included speeches by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Vuk Jeremić, President of the General Assembly, and Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth.

Desire for a peaceful future

Inspired by her parents and world rights activists such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Malala called on world powers to put peace at the center of their policies and said she was fighting for women's rights because they suffer the most.

Malala said the Taliban attack did not change anything in her life, except that, in her words, weakness, fear, and hopelessness disappeared from her mind.

Mercy and forgiveness

What is surprising about Yousafzai's speech is Malala's confidence and voice. As a 16-year-old girl, she bravely talked about the attack on her. What is even more impressive is the theme of forgiveness in this speech. Not much time had passed, but she calmly declared that she did not harbor evil but wished that the children of terrorists could also study so that there would be more peace and fewer wars. In many parts of the world, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan, extremism, wars, and conflicts prevent children from attending school, according to Malala.

Favorite quotes from Malala Yousafzai's UN speech

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

Malala Yousafzai quote

Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

The Nobel Peace Prize laureates for 2014 were fighters for children's rights - Pakistani Malala Yousafzai and Indian Kailash Satyarthi. All children have the right to a childhood and education without forced labor, said the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland. A young girl and an old man, one from Pakistan, the other from India, one a Muslim, and the other a Hindu, became symbols of what the world needs - the unity and brotherhood of peoples.

Favorite quotes from the Nobel Peace Prize speech

"This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education."

Malala Yousafzai quote

"The world can no longer accept that basic education is enough."

Speech addressed to the Canadian Parliament

In 2017, in Ontario, Canada, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai became an honorary citizen of Canada and the youngest speaker to give a speech in the country's parliament. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented the certificate to the courageous Pakistani woman.

Here, Malala continued her theme about the importance of secondary education and completing 12-year schooling. In this speech, she used specific numbers to show the practical value of the power of education. Malala spoke about her faith, about Muslims, in connection with the terrorist attacks that were committed in Canada and Europe. She talked about Islam and the teachings of peace and asked not to perceive all Muslims as radicals.

Quotes from the speech to the Canadian Parliament

"When a country gives all its children secondary education, they cut their risk of war in half."

Malala Yousafzai quote

G7 Education and Development Ministers meeting

In 2019, in Paris, France, Malala gave a speech at a G7 meeting. G7 (Group of Seven) is an international forum of seven highly developed countries (USA, Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Canada).

The fight against inequality was the priority of the French G7 Presidency. Particular emphasis was placed on gender equality, and Africa received significant priority.

Malala Yousafzai emphasized the significant economic benefits of investing in girls' education, highlighting studies that demonstrate how each additional year of schooling for girls can lead to substantial financial contributions to their communities and economies.

Quotes from the G7 speech

"Girls have the power to boost economies, create jobs, make communities safer and drive industry."

"No matter the opportunity — a media interview, a business meeting or standing at a podium addressing world leaders — my message remains the same: invest in girls' education."

Speech at the United Nations General Assembly

Seven years after her legendary speech at the UN, Malala spoke again in 2022 at the UN General Assembly. She reminded the public and the UN itself of the promises made regarding education.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (who has held this position since 2017) called the Malala "a symbol of perhaps the most important thing in the world - the availability of education for all. Even in the face of grave danger, Malala Yousafzai demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the rights of women, girls, and all people".

Quotes from the UN General Assembly speech

"If you are serious about creating a safe, sustainable future for all children, then be serious about education."

Malala Yousafzai quote

Themes and messages

Key themes in Malala Yousafzai's speeches include the significance of girls' education, resilience, and advocacy for human rights. Through her words, she emphasizes the importance of fairness and equality, inspiring others to stand up for what is right. Her key topics are:

  • Personal story

Usually, Malala shares her story of the Taliban attack on her for her activism in Pakistan. She highlights the importance of resilience and bravery and the impact one individual can have on global issues.

  • Education and equality

Malala stresses the need for continuous efforts to ensure equal educational opportunities for all genders.

  • Human rights and philanthropy

Malala emphasizes the collective impact of individual contributions and the importance of strategic philanthropy. She often shares stories of girls she met in refugee camps or countries with human rights problems.

  • Inspirational & empowering women and girls

In her bright speeches, Malala Yousafzai inspires the audience with real-life examples and encourages support for women's empowerment initiatives.

Malala's speeches: Amplifying the Malala Fund's message

The goal of the Malala Fund is to empower local leaders and activists, with Malala's speeches serving to amplify the message of the Fund. The Malala Fund supports local activists, including those who defend girls' rights. Activists in Afghanistan, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey can make a difference in their communities, so the Malala Fund can make a difference by supporting and working with them. 47 million dollars has already been invested in this support.

The Fund helps improve girls' access to science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) education. Malala's goal is to take young activists to global platforms like the UN so these girls can interact with international leaders and make their voices heard.

Empower your growth with Headway

"I am Malala" is a book that teaches us about courage and determination, showing us how education can overcome even the toughest challenges. If you're looking for more inspirational stories like this, try out the Headway app. With over 1,500 book summaries available, Headway is a great tool for busy professionals. It offers quick summaries that allow you to learn valuable lessons and gain insights in just a few minutes.


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