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Malala campaigns for girls’ education in US Congress

BY: Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: Malala Yousafzai spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill, talking to US lawmakers about her global campaign to promote girls’ education.

The talks focused on spreading universal secondary education for girls, congressional aides said after some of the meetings.

Malala, 17, became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner last year but she is still a school student in Britain. Her campaign managers said she was spending part of her summer break in Washington to raise funds for the non-profit Malala Fund.

She met Congresswomen Kay Granger and Nita Lowey, who are known on the Hill as education champions. Ms Granger is a Republican and Ms Lowey a Democrat.

Keen to reach across Washington’s political divide, Malala met a Republican, Mark Kirk, and a Democrat, Richard Durbin, in the Senate as well.

During the next few days, she will also meet a group of bipartisan senior women staffers from the House and Senate. Her father Ziauddin Yousafzai and the president of the Malala Fund, Meighan Stone, are accompanying her.

The Malala Fund told reporters that the young Nobel laureate was calling for strengthened US leadership for girls’ education globally, including increased US contributions for the Global Partnership for Education.

The GPE is an international organisation focused on getting all children into school for quality education in the world’s poorest countries.

Recently, the GPE announced $235 million of grants to support education in Bangladesh, Mozambique, Nepal and Rwanda.

Malala is also urging US lawmakers to support additional funding for girls’ secondary education through First Lady Michelle Obama’s new initiative, “Let Girls Learn”.

More than 60 million girls globally are denied their right to a quality education due to poverty, violence or tradition.

The Malala Fund is campaigning for all countries to guarantee and fund 12 years of free primary and secondary education for all children by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Girls can be anything they dream. They are brave and strong but many do not get the opportunity to even go to school,” Malala said.

“It is time that a bold and clear commitment is made by the US to increase funding and support governments around the world to provide 12 years of free primary and secondary education for everyone by 2030.”

She urged governments to “invest in books, not bullets”, adding that US lawmakers also had a choice to make: either invest in military and war or in education and hope.

“Without education, it is impossible to achieve the peace we all seek. Education for all is the only answer,” Malala said.

She will also meet students, NGOs, leaders, philanthropists and other advocates during her stay in Washington.