New York

12 July 2013

Secretary-General’s press encounter with Malala Yousafzai and Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education [unofficial transcript]

SG: I am going to give you a Charter of the United Nations. Normally this Charter of the United Nations – leatherbound – is reserved for Heads of States, normally. But I am giving it to you as a birthday gift. In this charter there are several articles where this Charter emphasizes the importance of education.

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear parents and family members of Malala, Special Envoy Gordon Brown,

It is a great pleasure to welcome our hero, our champion for education, Malala Yousafzai to the United Nations. She is a symbol of courage and hope for many millions of children, particularly young girls, whose human rights and human dignity and whose right to education are not respected. She has shown such strong courage. She was attacked because of her determination to go to school and learn.

She has inspired many millions of people, particularly young people.  This world is very young. More than half the global population is young people under the age of 25.

We have to hear their voices. We have to meet the expectations of these young people, particularly when it comes to education. Still, 57 million young people are out of school.  When it comes to secondary education, more than 100 million people are out of school. This is not acceptable.

I have spoken for the first time with Malala last April on the occasion of the launching of the 1,000-day-for-action countdown to the Millennium Development Goals.  As you know, one of the very important pillars of the Millennium Development Goals is to provide primary education to all people, all children around the world.

She has inspired all young people.

The United Nations takes education as a number one priority. Last year, I launched the Global Education First, together with Special Envoy Gordon Brown, as Special Envoy of the United Nations. I really appreciate his leadership and strong commitment to raise the awareness and the importance of education.

With Malala, I think we can make this dream of providing quality education to all people around the world, and I am very glad that she has chosen to celebrate the cause of education on the occasion of her 16th birthday today. And I would like to sincerely congratulate you on your birthday.

This is the first time that the United Nations is convening a Youth Assembly, and please speak out – your dreams and your challenges and a strong message of hope to many people around the world.

I welcome you again to the United Nations, and my warm congratulations on your birthday.  Thank you very much. I wish you all the best.