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Malala announces day of silence to raise awareness of children's rights

Education campaigner Malala Yousafzai has called on young people around the world to join her in a day of silence to highlight the need to listen to childrens’ voices.

The event We Are Silent on 17 April will mark the end of a four-day social media campaign organised by the Malala Fund and social activist charity Free The Children to raise the plight of children who are suffering and who are not heard.

“We have opportunities to raise our voices,” said Malala. “We should use it to the benefit of these children.”

Malala, who was shot by the Taliban in October 2012 after speaking up for girls’ education, was speaking at the We Day event in London today.

We Day is a one-day festival organised by Free the Children, which was attended by 12,000 school children who had earned their ticket by doing voluntary work. Speakers included Prince Harry and former American vice-president Al Gore. Musicians Ellie Goulding and Dizzee Rascal also performed.

As well as entertainment, there were stories from people who wanted to inspire and motivate young people.

Martine Wright, who lost both legs in the 7/7 bombings in London but went on to lead the paralympic sitting volleyball team at the 2012 Paralympics, told children to take up opportunities.

Malala, a teenager not much older than the children in the audience, said: "In Swat, we faced terrorism and at that time I realised that education was something very important. Girls’ education was banned.

“At that time we had two options: one was not to speak and die, the second was to speak and then die. And I chose the second one.”

She was attacked on a school bus and shot in the head. Two friends were also injured by the gunman. Malala was flown to England for treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where she spent the next three months. 

She told the audience at We Day: “We spoke at that time, we raised our voices…I did not know though that outside, outside Swat, the world was listening to our words. And soon I discovered that the powerful tool, the powerful weapon you have, is your voice.”

Highlights from We Day can be watched on the TES Connect website.

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