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Malala urges world leaders to end conflict, empower women

Date of publication: 20 October, 2016

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The world's youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousefzai has urged world leaders to end conflict and empower women to receive a "quality education".

Pakistan's Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai on Wednesday urged the world to unite to end conflicts and ensure equality for women.

"We cannot talk about investing in our future in this region without calling for an end to these bombings and these attacks," she told a conference in the southern Gulf emirate of Sharjah on the future of women in the Middle East.

"I cannot stop thinking of those 500,000 children in Mosul right now under a threat to be used as human shields," she said of the Iraqi city where an offensive has been launched to retake it from the Islamic State militant group.

The 19-year-old urged the world's Muslims to "come together... and follow the true message of Islam as they join hands in the struggle for peace".

"We must not forget that the majority of those suffering because of these conflicts and wars are Muslims," said Malala, referring to conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Malala, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 after she had publicly advocated education for girls, also called for empowering the younger generation, especially women, with the education needed "to bring peace and prosperity to their countries".

She added that she planned to study philosophy, politics and economics at university, but could not stop thinking of girls in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon with similar dreams of peace and an education.

"I also cannot stop thinking of my sisters in Pakistan and Afghanistan who become victims of early child marriages and lose the opportunity to study further," she said.

We cannot talk about investing in our future in this region without calling for an end to these bombings and these attacks.
- Malala Yousefzai

The youngest-ever Nobel recipient stressed the need for men to support women in their attempt to receive "quality education".

The conference was organised by The Big Heart Foundation and attended by more than 300 gender-equality advocates and officials.

Malala, who moved to England where she received medical treatment after the shooting, is both admired and hated in her native Pakistan, where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 jointly with India's Kailash Satyarthi, a fellow education activist who made similar calls at the Sharjah conference on Wednesday.

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