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Malala Promotes Universal Education at UN

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai poses for pictures during a photo opportunity at the United Nations in New York, Aug. 18, 2014.

Global education advocate Malala Yousafzai joined the U.N. secretary-general Monday to mark the 500 Days countdown until the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals. The teen activist has inspired other young people with her commitment to making education available to children everywhere.

Five-hundred young people gathered at the U.N. Monday to encourage political leaders to keep up the momentum as the clock counts down to the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty, hunger and other obstacles to development and healthy lives.

Their focus was the second of the eight goals - achieving universal primary education. And their motivational speaker was Malala Yousafzai, the courageous young Pakistani girl who survived a Taliban assassination attempt for wanting to go to school.

Malala said her dream is still to see every child go to school and she encouraged other young people to get involved in making it happen.

“We should believe in the power of our voice and we should believe that yes, it can really bring a change,” she said.

The young advocate has had a busy year. She has visited Syrian refugees in Jordan and met the parents of school girls abducted in Nigeria, all while promoting her Malala Fund which empowers girls through education.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed Malala on Monday, saying she is a “daughter of the U.N.’ He encouraged other young people to follow her example and raise their voices too.

“One may think, I’m just a young girl or a young boy, I don’t have any power, but each and every one of you can make a difference,” he said.

Ban said that the world is experiencing so many “fires burning” at once, and the U.N. is working to extinguish them. He said there is a “flame of hope” as well, which are the Millennium Development Goals.

While all eight will likely not reach their targets in time for the 2015 deadline, the U.N. is looking beyond that timeframe to carry on a post-2015 sustainable development agenda.