Canadian Youth Participate in Historic UN Takeover

Campaigner Malala Yousafzai to make passionate plea for youth education

TORONTO, July 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Tomorrow, two Plan Canada youth ambassadors will join over 600 young people from all over the world to participate in the first ever youth takeover of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Crystal, age 18, and Fahmeeda, age 16, will take part in events led by schoolgirl campaigner Malala Yousafzai to raise awareness about access to education for all children, especially girls.

In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai survived an assassination attempt by extremists who targeted her because of her gender and education activism, particularly concerning the education of girls. She has since become a heroic symbol for girls' education around the world. To mark her 16th birthday on July 12, Malala will take to the stage at the UN General Assembly to urge government leaders to tackle the issue of access to education for all children. This historic event will be commemorated as Malala Day; a day of action to increase access to education. Along with Malala, the hundreds of youth delegates, including Canadians Crystal and Fahmeeda,will take part in activities to develop a youth-led resolution on education for all girls and boys that will be presented to the UN General Assembly in September 2013. This will also be Malala's first public appearance and speech since her shooting last year.

"Education is one of the most powerful tools in the world and I am excited to be a part of this event," says Fahmeeda, Plan Canada youth ambassador. "It is an opportunity to bring attention to girls' education around the world and how it can help lift entire communities out of poverty. As an avid supporter of Plan's Because I am a Girl initiative, I am able to make my own voice heard and stand together with everyone else who believes in equal access to education for boys and girls everywhere."

Malala Day also holds added significance for child rights organization Plan Canada and its Because I am a Girl initiative, as the day marks 100 days leading up to the second annual International Day of the Girl on October 11th. This lead-up will engage Canadians in a series of public events and activities to support girls' right to an education, including a 'Raise Your Hand' for Girls' Education Facebook campaign.

"We are so proud of our young Canadian delegates, Crystal and Fahmeeda, who are going to join Malala and their global peers in speaking out to world leaders about every child's right to an education," says Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO of Plan Canada. "There are now more youth on the planet than there has ever been in history, and it is critical that young people have opportunities like this to shape theworld they want to live in."

The UN youth takeover is calling for urgent action by member states to ensure they meet Millennium Development Goal 2 (achieve universal primary education) by 2015. The youth-led resolution will feed into an agenda for global education priorities post-2015.

Plan International's global Because I am a Girl initiative is working hard to support millions more girls to realize their right to an education currently denied by barriers such as, child marriage and gender-based violence in and around school.

BACKGROUND
The UN youth takeover is part of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Education First initiative and has been organized by the UN Special Envoy for Education, Gordon Brown, who will be in attendance on the day.

  • Today 66 million girls do not attend primary and secondary school in the poorest countries of the world;
  • 70% of the world's 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty is made up of girls and women; and
  • For every year a girl stays in secondary school, her eventual wages will be boosted by 15% to 25%. When she earns an income, she reinvests on average 90% of it into her family, compared to only 30% to 40% among men.[1]

About Plan and the 'Because I am a Girl' Initiative
Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world's oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan's global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls' rights and lift millions of girls - and everyone around them - out of poverty. Visit www.plancanada.ca and www.becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.

[1] Girls Not Brides: http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/themes/poverty/

SOURCE: Plan Canada

For further information:

For more information or to request an interview, please contact;

Abigail Brown
Media and Public Relations Manager, Plan Canada
C: 647-971-3764
abrown@plancanada.ca

Jennifer Ouellette
Hill+Knowlton Strategies
T: 416-413-4774
jennifer.ouellette@hkstrategies.ca

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Plan Canada

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