Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai spread her universal message of women empowerment through investing in girls’ education when she was in Tokyo, Japan, recently, for the World Assembly for Women (WAW!) conference.
WAW! is an initiative led by the Japanese government to realise a “society where women shine”.
This annual conference has been developing in line with the promotion of women’s active participation in society, one of the key policies of the current administration led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Yousafzai – who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when she was only 17 after she, with two other girls, were seriously wounded in an attack that the Taliban later claimed credit for, also vowing to kill her for encouraging Western ideas, specifically the education of women – delivered the keynote address at WAW!, also attended by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet among others.
The activist called for change in education systems to ensure that countries provide quality education for girls, not only in Japan, but in the rest of the world, to help eradicate poverty, extremism and to tackle climate change.
“If you do not invest in girls’ education, the world will lose $30 trillion (R422trillion) of the global economy.
“If you do not invest in quality education, girls will not be prepared for the world.
“Recent studies that we have done, show that up to one billion girls are unprepared to enter the world market,” she said.
“I’d like to thank Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his leadership in the past 10 years, especially at the G7 Summit, for reserving $200 million for girls’ education.
“‘Womenomics’, that is what we need around the world, not just in Japan. His mission to empower girls globally gives us hope.”
Bachelet said she appreciated Japan’s effort and commitment to building a society in which men and women have equal opportunities.
“Discrimination against women is pervasive and in almost any society in the world, we still have a long way to go in order to create societies where all people can shine and reach their full potential for which we all need to work together, said Bachelet.
“Empowering women across the world will bring tremendous contributions to our societies.”
Bachelet added that women’s participation does not just mean to increase the number of women in the labour market, but in all spheres of society, including taking on decision-making positions.
“Such powers can only be achieved through a genuine realisation of women’s participation with the guidance of the law.”