SEVENTEEN-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai will visit Trinidad and Tobago on July 31.
The announcement was made by Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim at the inaugural International Women’s Day Symposium at the Hyatt Regency hotel, Port of Spain, in March, and confirmed yesterday via a news release from the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training.
Yousafzai gained worldwide attention in 2012, when a Taliban gunman, who opposed the teenager’s advocacy for women’s rights to education, entered the schoolbus in which she was travelling and shot her in the head. She survived the attack and went on to continue her advocacy work, most recently campaigning for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram.
Malala has received numerous awards for her work as an activist, including the National Youth Peace Prize, the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice and International Prize for Equality and Non-Discrimination among others. Her birthday, July 12, has been named “Malala Day”.
Praising Malala’s initiative, Karim stated, “We in Trinidad and Tobago are extremely fortunate to live in a country where all of our citizens are offered universal, free access to education from the pre-school to tertiary levels and as such we can be seen as a model of what this young lady is advocating for, across the world.”
“Right here at home, we endorse the view that education is the way out of tenuous circumstances that continue to affect our own society,” Karim added. “I am deeply inspired and motivated by Malala, her story and her work. It is for this reason that I sought to meet with her, and invite her here, to see what we are doing, and so that she may inspire us all—leaders, educators, students and young people, to not just continue the good work, to not just pursue our dreams but to never give up.
A separate news release from the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) confirmed that Malala will be hosted by the institution in celebration of its tenth anniversary.
“She is a transformative voice in this generation—an advocate for the rights of girls in all countries and cultures to be able to access quality education,” the release stated.
UTT president Prof Dyer Narinesingh said Malala’s visit should be viewed as a “catalyst to young people” and urged youths to seek out mentors like her.
Former high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Garvin Nicholas, credited with playing a significant role in organising Malala’s visit, stated the youngster had won the hearts and minds of world leaders and children throughout the world, adding that he looks forward to “seeing Malala on the shores of Trinidad and Tobago”.