My daughter is 13 years old. Living in London, surrounded by her friends, the latest music and fashion, and all the things a Western girl takes for granted. How can she really understand the fate of other girls in the world? How can she grasp the concept that girls around the world today are still not allowed to go to school? Are still not allowed the freedom to simply play? Girls who have to be aware from a young age that their rights are precious and by pursuing them, their lives are in terrible danger? Girls who are denied the rights to a childhood, whose freedoms are stolen along with their innocence, along with their trust in the adult world around them?
Girls just like you, Malala Yousafzai. A school teacher's (now teenage) daughter from Swat in Pakistan's North Western frontier. Malala, you were shot in the head on your school bus by Taliban gunmen for speaking out for your right to an education, for wanting to empower yourself with knowledge. You are now known across the world by your first name, for your extraordinary bravery that shines a spotlight into the black hole of religious fanaticism, of terror and mindless oppression across the world.
In standing up your right to be educated you stand up for the rights of girls and women across the world. Girls are forbidden an education in countries across the globe, in societies where religious fundamentalism is taking its hold. Even in places that we think of as relatively stable and free - happy holiday destinations - like Tunisia - where often girls are not safe travelling to school.
Where a brutal ideology takes hold, women always suffer brutally. Their rights are stripped away. Freedoms that in the West we consider basic, are denied. In attempting to murder you, Malala, the Taliban created in you an eternal symbol of courage, of strength and of clarity against the dark, opaque forces of terror. You so nearly died at the tender age of fifteen for articulating a dream, one that we in the West take for granted. Here, we don't have to fight against tyranny as you did, and we have become silent. Society mutes our voices in different ways. But like Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar/Burma, Malala, you bring us hope and faith and a realisation that women the world over, can and must stand up and be counted in the fight for even basic human rights to be a given for us all.
Malala, you are our world-wide wake up call. You are the best in us all. You are helping the world to become dignified. The way you live shows us that our lives are ones of dishonour if we do not add our voices to yours: our silence is political. We are sluggish and afraid to upset the status quo. Your voice is political. You are not afraid. On your 16th. birthday you spoke to the UN in a speech broadcast around the world. And this year, you have become the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. It's easy to forget that you are still a teenage girl who needs comfort - and that unimaginably, fought for the right to education.
Today, on the International Day of the Girl Child, I will speak to my 13 year old daughter and I will tell her about your amazing story. I will tell her how your actions, your blog and your use of social media brought the plight of you and your sisters to the world. I will tell her about your passionate fight for an education and how you have helped girls and women far beyond the borders of your native Pakistan; how your courage, your clarity and your message of freedom is an education for all of us, for every man and woman across the globe. Today I will speak to my daughter about Malala.
Thank you, Malala from me, my daughter and all your sisters all over the world