Malala Yousafzai has given an important and empowering speech shedding light on crucial issues amidst the global pandemic.

Speaking at the 2021 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature over the weekend, Yousafzai explained that the COVID-19 pandemic may make it difficult for many girls around the school to return to school, something that should be treated “as an emergency”, according to the recent Oxford University graduate.

Referencing research done by the non-profit organisation she founded, the Malala Fund, it’s estimated that 20 million girls’ education was at risk due to the pandemic at the start of it in March 2020.

“The reasons for this could be because many girls are pushed into forced marriages or because they have become financial supporters of their families and since they now have extra work, they won’t be able to return to school,” she said.

Further highlighting the issues Yousafzai said, “We need to be aware of what the impact of such disasters could be on the progress we are making.”

She also added that it was every girl’s right globally to receive a “safe, quality and free education”.

“They should have the right to complete 12 years of education,” she said. “Every girl should have the right to dream and then to fulfil those dreams.”

Yousafzai rose to global prominence in 2012 after being shot in the head by Taliban gunmen as she boarded her school bus in north-west Pakistan.

The teen first became a target for the regime after defying a ban issued in 2009 forbidding girls to go to school and penning an anonymous blog for the BBC highlighting life under Taliban rule with a personal emphasis on women’s right to education.

She went on to become the youngest person ever to Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, being just 17-years-old. The human rights activist went to go on to begin her studies at Oxford University in 2017.

She now continues to advocate for the rights of girls globally to receive a full education.

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Images: Malala Fund Instagram