Sunday Conversation

Malala Yousafza, a 15-year-old blogger in Pakistan, was gunned down for demanding the right to an education. It was an act of violence which elicited outrage across the world. It was an act of violence which proved insufficient to silence Malala, who addressed the United Nations on her 16th birthday.

“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first,” she said before an audience of young adults.

Tragically, millions of children are prevented from holding that “powerful weapon.” According to a new report by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), some progress has been made to reduce the number of children out of school – the number of children out of school has fallen from 60 million in 2008 to 57 million in 2011.

However, the number of children out of school in conflict zones – 28 million – actually increased during that same period of time, according to the Brookings Institution.

“Globally, the proportion of out-of-school children in conflict-affected countries rose to 50 per cent of all children in 2011, up from 42 per cent in 2008. The rise is in part attributed to three new countries joining the list of the 32 countries affected by armed conflict between 2002 and 2011. Two of the three are in the Arab region, Libya and Syria,” notes Brookings fellow Maysa Jalbout.

Jalbout concludes that Malala’s speech could mark a moment that could spark real change: “These same demands have been heard at the UN before. What’s different about today, however, is the powerful symbolism of Malala speaking at the UN, flanked by the UN secretary-general, Bank Ki-moon, and the UN special envoy for global education, Gordon Brown. She is backed by 500 young members of the Global Education First Youth Advocacy Group, convening for what is being called the first “youth takeover” of the UN.

With her address to the UN, Yousafza has become the face of the next generation. It is a generation of girls and women who are stepping forward to claim their right to an education and to equality in nations across the world from Pakistan and Egypt to South Africa and Brazil.

And, as Der Spiegel notes, it is a revolution “with new tools: mobile phones, the Internet and the global public” and includes “not just women, but girls, too, are now fighting for space on the global stage. These girls dare to make plans, to desire a different world, and to believe that true change is possible.”

Et Cetera

Does Silicon Valley Hold The Key To Ending Global Poverty?Charles Kenny and Justin Sandefur write in Foreign Policy about the effort by technology’s entrepreneurs to use their power – and the power of the laptop – to spark change in developing nations.

Columnist: Coverage Of The Middle East Reflects The West’s Failure To Understand Middle East Politics
The Daily Star’s columnist Rami G. Khouri contends the coverage of the Middle East is too absolutist and “misses how life, ideology, identity and politics actually operate” in the region.

He says international observers should have “both the courtesy and the analytical professionalism” to acknowledge that politics operate “through a process of constant negotiations of identities and authorities by a wide range of citizens who often are not formalized in clear organizations, and for the most part do not have websites, or Twitter and Facebook accounts.”

Weekend Interview: Hugh Herr
Hugh Herr, a pioneer in the science of bionics, sits down with The Wall Street Journal to discuss how bionic prosthetics are changing the lives of those who have suffered traumatic injury.

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