Malala’s Birthday Speech
“In the name of God, the most beneficent, the most merciful...”
Malala Yousafzai in her birthday address to the UN Youth Assembly, July 9, 2013
A pink lacy shawl frames her dark hair and determined face. She is sixteen!
Confident and convivial, she commands the podium in front of the world’s leaders.
Sixteen! Malala has survived a gunshot at close range,
on her schoolbus in Pakistan,
a target of the Taliban for speaking her strong mind.
She has survived!
“Respected elders, and my dear brothers and sisters, Salaam Aleichem.”
She fingers her delicate shawl, bequeathed from Benazir Bhutto,
one woman to another, a gift of strength from across time and beyond the veil.
“This time, we women will do it for ourselves.
Thank you to God, for whom we are all equal!
I speak so that those without voice can be heard.”
Her mother wipes away tears.
Men in suits stare, making space in their consciousness for Malala,
for this empowered young woman who has enraptured the world.
“Weakness, fear and hopelessness died.
Strength, fervor and courage were born.”
The room breaks out in emotion-filled applause.
Imbued with ahimsa, forgiveness and non-violence,
her strength uplifts us all.
July 18, 2013
Listen and watch as Malala gives her Birthday speech to the UN Youth Assembly.