Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) In commemoration of the International Women’s Day, Pakistani activist, UN Messenger of Peace, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient and the co-founder of Malala Fund, Malala Yousafzai was honoured at the 2nd HUM Women Leaders Award, for her outstanding public service and contributions in the field of education, and for being a symbol and source of hope, courage, determination and inspiration for girls and women across the globe. The award was presented by the president of HUM Network, Sultana Siddiqui to Dr. Maliha Khan, Chief Programming Officer at Malala Fund, who received the accolade on behalf of Malala Yousafzai, who joined the award ceremony via video link at the event hosted at the President’s Secretariat in Islamabad on 9th March 2021. The honourable President of Pakistan His Excellency Dr. Arif Alvi graced the occasion as the Chief Guest along with various other notable personalities from a diversity of fields.
“I dedicate this award to all the young girls who wish for a bright future, who have a desire to learn and get an education. The pandemic has amplified the education crisis in Pakistan, even more so for girls who continue to pay the highest price Poverty, gender and marginalisation have intersected to accentuate inequalities, making it harder than ever for girls from poorer, rural households to learn. With Malala Fund and our new projects, it is our mission to prioritise the education of girls with an even greater emphasis during this pandemic, so they can continue to learn during [the pandemic] without hindrance. I hope for a day in Pakistan when every girl is able to go to school, get an education, be able to fulfill her dreams and lead without fear.” said Malala Yousafzai on receiving the HUM Women Leaders Award. Co-founded by Malala and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala Fund is working to ensure every girl around the world can access 12 years of free, safe and quality education.
The organisation supports girls’ education programmes in Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria and Turkey. Inspired by Malala and Ziauddin Yousafzai’s roots as local activists in Pakistan, Malala Fund established the Education Champion Network which invests in education advocates and activists who are challenging the policies and practices that prevent girls from going to school in their communities. Today, Malala Fund supports 57 Education Champions. Malala Fund, in its November 2020 report on Girls’ Education and COVID-19 in Pakistan highlights how the pandemic has impacted students and their families in Pakistan, especially girls. Although Pakistan has made significant progress for girls’ education in the last decade, over 12 million girls remain out of school, with only 13% of girls reaching grade nine. Malala Fund Education Champions in Pakistan aim to work closely with federal and provincial governments as well as independent bodies to ensure the safe, gender-responsive reopening of schools, alleviate the economic effects of the pandemic to help families prioritise education, protect education gains and build back Pakistan’s education system with gender at the centre to promote inclusive growth and ensure every girl can learn.