Malala Yousafzai sits in a hospital room surrounded by thousands of gifts, cards and messages of support from around the world, a feeling that has left her “inspired and humbled,” according to her father, who appeared in a video released Friday. “She wants me to tell everyone how grateful she is and is amazed that men, women and children from across the world are interested in her well-being,” Ziauddin Yousafzai said.
Her story—that of a 15-year-old girl shot in the head by the Taliban for her activism regarding women’s education just a month ago —has garnered so much international attention that United Nations Special Envoy Gordon Brown has declared November 10 “Malala Day” worldwide. To commemorate Malala, he will visit Pakistan to deliver a petition with over a million signatures urging President Asif Ali Zardari to make education in the country available to all children and “outlaw discrimination against girls.”
In a video on his website, the former British Prime Minister pointed to the plight of 61 million children currently out of schools, many of whom have been burdened by child labor, child marriages, recruited as child soldiers or marginalized through disability.
“If nothing changes soon we are looking at a world where the children of today become the unemployed and unemployable of tomorrow,” he said. “A world without school is a world without hope. We cannot all be a Malala Yousafzai, but we can all follow her, support her, pray for her.”
Yousafzai is being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England and was featured alongside her father in the video released by the hospital. She appears fully dressed and sitting upright at a table clutching a white teddy bear with a slightly blackened left eye as her father pulls cards from a piles scattered all over the room’s small table and hospital bed.
“Her voice is the voice of the people of Pakistan and all down and deprived children of the world,” Ziauddin Yousafzai said. “Malala and all other female and human rights activists must be heard seriously and sincerely.”
Amnesty International has helped to lead efforts to send the Yousafzai family, and the families of the other two girls injured in the attack, messages of solidarity, according to Maya Pastakia, a campaigner for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Regional Amnesty International offices in the United States, Australia, Norway, Austria, Denmark and Slovenia have helped dispatch thousands of letters and cards.
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But letters and petitions are not enough, Pastakia added.
“At the end of the day, despite any amount of international pressure whether from the UN and/or Amnesty International, the responsibility lies with the Pakistan government to ensure protection for Malala and other women’s rights activists and increase efforts to improve and protect women/girls’ access to education,” she said. Several prominent Pakistani politicians have spoken out against the attacks, including President Asif Ali Zardari, who called the incident an “attack on all girls in Pakistan, an attack on education, and on all civilized people,” at an economic summit in Azerbaijan last month.
Even the sister of one of the main suspects, Rehena Haleem, has spoken out against the attacks, telling CNN that she thought her brother Attah Ullah Khan was guilty. “What he did was intolerable,” she said. “Malala is just like my sister. I’d like to express my concern for Malala on behalf of my whole family; I hope she recovers soon and returns to a happy and normal life as soon as possible.”