UN marks 500 days of action until deadline to reach MDG

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Moderator Amy Robach, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Malala Yousafzai
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
New York: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, alongside with Pakistani student and education advocate Malala Yousafzai, marked 500 days of action until the deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The UN Chief encouraged the 500 young attendants – one for each day remaining to reach the deadline to achieve the MDGS – to the event to become leaders and to stand up to make a difference.

"You have a prerogative and a legitimate right to raise your voice to your teachers, to your parents, to your Senators and Congressmen, and President, and Prime Ministers and Ministers. If they do not listen to you, then to whom should they listen?"

Turning to female education and women empowerment, Ban pointed out that among the most "unutilized" human resources is "women power." He recalled that
"more than half of our global population are women" and noted that "it is only natural that, if not more, at least equal opportunity should be given to women and girls, particularly to young girls."

He emphasizes the "moral responsibility" of the international community to cultivate the potential of girls and boys as a way to invest in the future.

Ban noted that the MDGs – agreed by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000 – have helped unite, inspire and transform. He underscored that poverty has been cut in half, that more girls are attending school worldwide, especially in developing countries, and fewer people are dying from malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases.
The eight MDGs have become a 15-year road map to fight poverty, hunger and disease, protect the environment, expand education and basic health and to achieve gender equality.

Yousafzai, the Pakistani student who was shot in the head by the Taliban on board of a school bus in October 2012, pointed out the importance of education as a tool to empower women.

"I think this is education that can let women know, that can let girls know that, yes, they are as equal as boys are."

She noted that gender parity can be achieved if education is made a "top priority."

Yousafzai underscored the importance of education worldwide, especially in developing countries.

"If they [developing countries] want to succeed, if they want to become like the so-called developed countries, then they need to invest in education."

The Pakistani student encouraged governments of poorer countries to invest in building schools and in providing "quality education – not just sending children to schools and to empty buildings." She highlighted the importance of having "good, well-qualified teachers" as well as equipping schools with laboratories, libraries, computer labs and "facilities children would need."

Yousafzai has become a renowned education advocate through her campaigns to fight illiteracy, poverty and terrorism.
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