On July 12th, Malala Yousafzai- a courageous advocate for girls’ education who was targeted and shot by the Taliban for her activism - marked her 16th birthday by giving her first public speech at the United Nations. Youth from around the world joined Malala in New York City to call on world leaders to support the right of every girl and boy to go to school. One of the youth who shared Malala’s rallying cry was Camfed graduate and Cama member Abigail Kaindu, who is also a member of the UN Global Education First Initiative’s Youth Advocacy Group (YAG).
“I was so excited to be a part of Malala Day,” says Abigail. “It makes me realize how important the call for education for all is; it should be on everybody’s agenda no matter where he or she comes from.”
The global community had convened to highlight how youth can play a leading role in enabling all children to receive an education. Five hundred youth delegates from 100 different countries, along with the President of the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary General, and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, attended a series of youth-focused events on education in support of the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI).
“Exclusion from education is not just a Zambian challenge,” says Abigail. “It is now a global challenge. So let’s work together and we shall achieve.”
YAG members, including Abigail, organized and facilitated several events throughout the week, ranging from thematic policy discussions to skills-building sessions on grass roots campaigning. In the skills-building session for grassroots campaigning – which Abigail led – delegates were equipped with the necessary knowledge to mobilize action for a cause. She taught participants how to target their advocacy messages towards different audiences including policymakers, media, community members, and peers.
After listening to speeches from the President of the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary General, and Malala herself, Abigail and her fellow YAG members presented the Youth Resolution: Education We Want to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The resolution, which YAG developed, puts pressure on governments to make education a priority and highlights the needs that should be addressed if the goal of having all children, especially girls, in school by 2015 is to be reached.
For Abigail, the resolution was more than just a set of demands; it symbolized her connection to Malala Yousafzai.
“We are all vulnerable in one way or another,” says Abigail. “For me, it was the lack of funds to support my education; for Malala, it was the lack of freedom to express the importance of education and represent a fundamental human right. We are brought together because we both want to raise our voices and be heard through our advocacy for education.”
Although Abigail has accomplished a tremendous amount for a 22-year-old, attending President Obama’s Forum with Young African Leaders in 2010, and now presenting a resolution to the UN Secretary General, she does not plan on stopping her activism for equal access to education here.
“I have plans for the future,” Abigail says. “I want to sensitize communities on the importance of education through media (newspapers, TV, social media, and radio), as well as community and school meetings.”
Ultimately, Abigail strives to share the importance of equal access to education with the world: “I hope to tell everyone that a poverty free world is possible. It begins with giving every child an opportunity to go to school, including the marginalized.”