27/01/2015 16:47 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Malala: 'We Are All Special'

Redferns via Getty Images
Malala Yousafzai on stage for We Day UK event at Wembley Arena on March 7, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.

Malala Yousafzai is on stage at the first ever UK We Day event, organised by the charity Free the Children to inspire a generation of 10 to 18-year-olds to take action on social issues.

Like many in the audience, Malala is just 16 years old. But her bravery has inspired the world and she has become a figure head for women standing up to oppression after her miraculous survival.

Members of the Taliban attacked the schoolgirl, in October 2012, as punishment for speaking out in support of education for girls. Her attackers intended to silence the campaign and scare young women away from education. However, rather than cowering in fear, Malala has fearlessly continued her fight for girls' right to education, while simultaneously pursuing her own education at Edgbaston High School in Birmingham.

She founded the Malala Fund which helps to finance schooling for young women in disadvantaged countries. She is the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and last year she was awarded with a Children's Peace Prize and a Pride of Britain award for her humanitarian work.

She started her speech by saying: "I think you may know me as the girl who was shot by the Taliban but I would like to share my story with you, about who I am."

In an inspirational speech, punctuated by cheers from the audience, she told them: "We all are not perfect. We all have some weaknesses but we are all special, we all have some talent...I still get frightened by ghosts and skeletons but your courage should be more than your fear.

"We were living in terrorism and we had two options - one was not to speak and die, and the second was to speak and then die. And I chose the second one....

"I discovered the powerful weapon you have is your voice.

"On the 9th of October I was shot by the Taliban but on that day my little bit of fear died and courage was born."

On stage Malala announced a 24 hour 'We Are Silent' vow of silence on April 17 - to 'speak through silence' in solidarity for girls and boys who can't go to school.

Before the event she confessed to Parentdish: "If my brother fights with me it will be very hard to remain silent and not to reply to him. But, I think we need to listen to these children who are deprived of education, who are suffering from poverty, or suffering from child labour, or child trafficking. We need to listen to their voices and that's why we should remain silent at least for a little while - to listen to them."

She also told us: "When I was in SWAT [her home area in Pakistan] I faced terrorism there. Girls were not allowed to go to school and women were not allowed to go to markets, and I realised that education is something special, it gives women the power to go forward in their lives.

"So I learnt the fact that for your bright future and for your dreams to come true you need to be educated and that's why now I speak for the education of every child."

Malala talked about her new life as a schoolgirl in Birmingham and the telling differences with her old life in a Taliban stronghold. She said: "The reality is that the maths is the same maths, and the science is the same science. But the fact is, the way of teaching is different.

"Here children have good schools, they have good buildings for schools, they also have libraries, science laboratories and they have computers as well. In our country we have a blackboard, a teacher and some students and that's it. Then it's our responsibility how to do it.

"So I think every child in the UK should be thankful that they have got so many facilities and they have got this opportunity of education.

"I think they should give importance to their education, because they're building their future, and in Pakistan there are so many children who are asking - who are struggling - for education and I hope that children here in the UK would take advantage of these facilities."

The first ever UK We Day is being live streamed on AOL UK.

More on Parentdish:

Free the Children: How 12 twelve-year-olds started a global movement

How to help your child identify and use their talents to help others

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