(Reuters) - In her first speech since the Taliban in Pakistan tried to kill her for advocating education for girls, Malala Yousafzai celebrated her 16th birthday on Friday at the United Nations by making an appeal for compulsory free schooling for all children.
Here are excerpts from her speech:
"I cannot believe how much love people have shown me. I have received thousands of good wish cards and gifts from all over the world. Thank you to all of them. Thank you to the children whose innocent words encouraged me. Thank you to my elders whose prayers strengthened me."
"Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for human rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goals of education, peace and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them."
"The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born."
"I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him."
"The wise saying, 'The pen is mightier than sword' was true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them."
"Dear fellows, today I am focusing on women's rights and girls' education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women social activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But, this time, we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women's rights rather I am focusing on women to be independent to fight for themselves."
"Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child's bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education for everyone. No one can stop us. We will speak for our rights and we will bring change through our voice. We must believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the world."
"One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education First."
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Vicki Allen)
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