Malala Yousafzai, who turned 16 on Friday, marked her birthday with an emotional speech at the United Nations in which she said education could change the world.
“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution,” a confident Malala said to cheers from the podium.
The Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for championing women's rights has told the United Nations she was attacked because extremists fear the power of education.
Malala Yousafzai, who has been recovering from last year's attack in the UK, told the youth assembly there were millions who had been attacked or killed across the world because of the terrorists' fear of "books and pens".
She called on those present to take up "the weapon of knowledge" in their campaign for access to education for all children around the world.
On her 16th birthday, the slight figure of Malala Yousafzai stood up to address the United Nations today - a mere nine months after the Taliban tried to murder her, simply for going to school.
The event was organised by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, now UN Special Envoy for Global Education, who is campaigning to get every girl and boy into school by 2015.
He praised Malala as "the most courageous girl in the world".
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who also attended the event, called her "our hero, our champion" and following her address he received a petition with four million signatures demanding education to all.
Malala presented Ban with a petition signed by some 4 million people in support of 57 million children around the world who are not able to go to school. It demanded that world leaders fund new teachers, schools and books and end child labour, marriage and trafficking.
Ban said that the United Nations was committed to a target of getting all children in school by the end of 2015.
“No child should have to die for going to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn. Together, we can change this picture,” he said. “Together, let us follow the lead of this brave young girl, Malala.”