Malala Yousufzai and her father became the first signatories of a new petition calling for better protection of female teachers and students Wednesday. Their new effort follows the death of a Pakistani teacher Tuesday not far from where Yousufzai was herself shot on the way home from school in October 2012.
The petition is aimed squarely at the top of the Pakistani government. It is available online and addressed to the Pakistani president. The petition reads:
“Mourning the death of Shahnaz Nazli, a courageous teacher shot for wanting to ensure girls have the right to go to school, we call on the President and Government of Pakistan to end the killings and violence that prevent girls’ education and to ensure all girls can go to school. We call for all girls and all teachers to be protected and given security to enable them to enjoy their basic right to be educated.”
Shahnaz was a 41-year-old women shot on her way to work at a school for girls in Jamrud. She is the latest person to get murdered in the region for not only wanting woman to have access to an education, but for working to make such a dream a reality.
The petition is backed by prominent international figures. Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education, asserts that every child should have the opportunity to go to school. He states that education breaks the cycle of poverty and provides access to a healthier life and better jobs.
“The petition is timely and necessary,” Brown said in a Huffington Post blog post. “This week’s shooting is unfortunately not an isolated incident but a sharp reminder of how a basic right, for girls to to go to school, is still being resisted violently by extremist militants.”
Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the UN and the man who gave Gordon Brown his current job, has also thrown his weight behind the measure.
“I grew up in a society ravaged by war and mired in poverty,” Ban says on the petition website. “Schools had been destroyed. UNESCO, UNICEF and other international partners provided books and school supplies to help pave road to recovery. I will never forget the hope that these basic tools gave us.”
Yousufzai recently began school in the UK after recovering from her injuries. Just by returning to school she remains an advocate and an inspiration for girls’ education around the world.