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By Jeff Wyman, Editor
Originally posted on the Share This blog.
On October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman stormed Malala Yousafzai's school bus in Pakistan, asked for her by name, and shot her in the head. The Taliban tried to silence Malala, an outspoken advocate for girls' education rights. Malala survived. Her voice has soared. Since the attack, Malala has continued to fight for education access, particularly for girls.
Girls worldwide face specific challenges because of their gender. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 31 million girls of primary school age are denied access to education. Two-thirds of illiterate people worldwide are female. World conflicts, poverty, health-related issues, childhood marriage, pregnancy, and biased cultural attitudes are all factors that limit girls' access to education. Increased education access improves social outcomes, such as lowering maternal childbirth rates, improving the health of families, and narrowing the gender wage gap.
When Malala turned 18 in July 2015, she addressed the issue of education funding. Her message to the world: "Books not bullets!" Malala called on world leaders to divert a portion of military spending to fund education. She cited an Education for All Global Monitoring Project study, which found that if the world halted military spending for eight days, the savings would be enough to fund 12 years of free education for every child in the world. This proposal, outlined in a Malala Fund report, demonstrates that funding for universal education is within reach.
The Twitter campaign #booksnotbullets features people around the world showing their support for education access by showcasing their favorite books. Books open worlds, bullets close them. Malala's inspiring words remind us all, especially during the back-to-school season, that education should be our top priority.