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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well good morning, everyone.  It is a particular pleasure to have Malala here at the State Department in Washington.  Thank you so much for visiting with us.  As I think many, many people know, Malala is truly an inspiration – an inspiration to us, an inspiration to girls and women around the world – but not just an inspiration; someone who by her work, by her efforts, is making a real difference, particularly when it comes to access to education for girls and women, which is a critical issue for President Biden and the United States as well.

So I’m very much looking forward to talking to her about the work that she’s doing, the work that we’re doing, and to hear from her, her ideas about how we can be more effective in making sure, as we’re working for gender equity, that girls and women have access to education.

But welcome.  So good to have you.

MS YOUSAFZAI:  Thank you so much, Secretary Blinken.  Thank you for your time today.  And you mentioned that I came here to talk about equality in girls’ education.  But we know that Afghanistan right now is the only country where girls do not have access to secondary education.  They are prohibited from learning, and I have been working together with Afghan girls and women’s activists, and there is this one message from them: that they should be given the right to work.  They should be able to go to school.  And I have a letter from Sotodah, a 15-year-old Afghan girl, and she has written this to President Biden, and I will pass on to you to pass it on to President.


MS YOUSAFZAI:  And she writes that the longer schools and universities remain closed to girls, the more it will shade hope for our future phase.  Girls’ education is a powerful tool for bringing peace and security.  If girls don’t learn, Afghanistan will suffer, too.  As a girl and as a human being, I need you to know that I have rights.  Women and girls have rights.  Afghans have the right to live in peace, go to school, and play.

So this is the message of Afghan girls right now, and we want to see a world where all girls can have access to safe and quality education, and we hope that the U.S., together with the UN, will take immediate actions to ensure that girls are allowed to go back to their schools as soon as possible, women are able to go back to work, and all the humanitarian assistance that is needed for education there is provided.  We know that this has been a challenge, and we want more focus to be given to education, teachers’ salaries, because these are the values that prevent from – prevent the schools from running.

So I’m looking forward to our conversation.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you so much, and thank you for sharing that.

MS YOUSAFZAI:  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you all.

U.S. Department of State

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