By: Jennifer Bentley
Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman made famous after being attacked by the Taliban for her activism for education and women’s rights, visited the United Nations on Monday to help the organization kick off the last 500 Days of Action for the Millennium Development Goals. She joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and more than 500 other young people.
The eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, were agreed upon in 2000, and include:
- Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger worldwide
- Achieving access to primary education for all
- Promoting gender equality and empowering women
- Reducing the child mortality rate worldwide
- Improving maternal health worldwide
- Combating diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and more
- Achieving and ensuring environmental sustainability
- Creating a global partnership for development worldwide
These goals have an ambitious target date of 2015. The 500 Days of Action event is designed to help speed further progress toward meeting these goals. According to Mr. Ban, although much progress toward each of the eight MDGs has already been made, the actions and ideas conceived by young people worldwide is what will be critical to achieving further success.
On Monday, MDG supporters spoke out about the need for further and faster progress toward reaching the target goals. The UN arranged for 500 minutes of speaker support to mark the beginning of the last 500 days before the MDG deadline. Mr. Ban spoke outlining the success that has already been made, while underlining the challenges that are still ahead. Poverty worldwide has been reduced by half, more children and girls than ever are attending school, and deadly diseases such as tuberculosis are claiming the lives of fewer people. However, progress still needs to be made in the areas of equality, maternal and child mortality rates, universal childhood education, and sustainability. He suggested that the poorest countries need the most help in making progress toward the goals.
Malala Yousafzai also spoke about her wish for every child to have access to education, and stressed the importance of cultivating the potential of young people for the future of all countries around the world. She also believes that change needs to be made in the way women around the world view themselves. She stated that many women believe that they are inferior to men, simply because no one has told them otherwise. Education allows them a chance to change this view, learn, and contribute in a positive way to the world around them.
Photo By Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire
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