The Pakistani teenager will address an audience of some 4,000 in New York.
Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai will speak at the United Nations in New York on July 12, her 16th birthday, according to the office of the U.N.’s special envoy for global education and former British prime minister, Gordon Brown.
“Malala is a true inspiration and a shining beacon for girls’ education around the world,” said Brown. “I am full of admiration for her courage and determination in the journey she is on, and am sure that she can become a real leader in the campaign for a school place for every girl—and every boy.” (Malala’s father, Ziauddin, works as an advisor to Brown.)
Malala has become a global icon for girls’ education, and is the odds-on favorite to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. She will be the second Pakistani to become a Nobel laureate. The first, Dr. Abdus Salam, won the physics prize in 1979.
Her U.N. appearance is the latest in a string of honors she’s received since being nearly killed by the Taliban on Oct. 9, when gunmen shot her and wounded two of her classmates by attacking their school van in Swat. She was flown to Birmingham for treatment and started school there last month. Some 4,000 people are expected to attend Malala’s U.N. speech.
Malala has been featured on the cover of Newsweek’s international editions. She has started a Malala Fund, to which Hollywood titan Angelina Jolie has contributed, to support all-girls schools in Pakistan. She was awarded the 2013 Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom. (She turned down the U.S. State Department’s Woman of Courage award for the fear this would likely have stigmatized her efforts for education in Pakistan.) She’s scored a $3 million book deal for her story, I Am Malala. She was one of a handful of runners-up for Time magazine’s 2012 Person of the Year.
And this week, she’s one of seven people featured on the seven different covers of Time’s 10th “100 Most Influential People in the World” issue.
“Malala is still so young and small that when [photographer Mark Seliger] sat her on a stool during the shoot, his assistants had to give her a plastic crate and two pieces of wood so she could rest her feet comfortably,” writes one of the magazine’s editors. The other cover subjects photographed by Seliger are U.S. musician Jay-Z, U.S. politician Rand Paul, Hollywood’s Jennifer Lawrence, Bollywood’s Aamir Khan, PayPal founder Elon Musk, and Chinese tennis player Li Na. The list also features Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, Duchess Kate Middleton, and singer-actor Justin Timberlake.
“The Taliban almost made Malala a martyr; they succeeded in making her a symbol,” writes Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former U.S. president Bill Clinton, in Time. Malala, she says, “accepts that unasked-for responsibility as a synonym for courage and a champion for girls everywhere. However Malala concludes her book, her story so far is only just beginning.”