3 Sep 2013

Malala Yousafzai: ‘A city without books is like a graveyard’

The Pakistani schoolgirl tells an audience in Birmingham that “one book, one pen, one child, one teacher” can change the world, as she opens the Library of Birmingham.

Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban after campaigning for girls’ right to education, was opening the £188m library – the largest in Europe.

A city without libraries is like a graveyard. Malala Yousafzai

The 16-year-old, who was nursed back to health in Birmingham, spoke of the importance of education in countering the suffering of children across the world.

Quoting Roman philosopher Cicero, she said: “As one said, ‘A room without books, is like a body without soul.’ I say, a city without books, a city without libraries, is like a graveyard.”

‘We must…’

She went on to emphasise the plight of children in conflict-ridden countries across the world.

“We must not forget that 57 million children are out of school,” she said. “We must speak up for peace and development in Nigeria, Syria and Somalia.

“We must speak up for the children of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, who are suffering from terrorism, poverty, child labour and child trafficking. Let us help them through our wise action and charity.”

Malala is due to be awarded the Children’s Peace Prize on Friday, in recognition of her work for children’s rights.