Update, 13 November: Today, Pakistan's National Assembly unanimously passed the Right to Free and Compulsory Education bill, which guarantees education to all children aged between 5 and 16 in the capital area. This is a dramatic achievement, and another credit to the bravery of Malala Yousafzai. Read her story below.
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban just for supporting girls' education, has been making a remarkable recovery in hospital in the UK. And now she has spoken of her "gratitude and amazement" at the overwhelming show of support and solidarity from citizens across the world.
That the 15-year-old Malala survived the attack at all was incredible; what happened next was extraordinary. Outraged by the Taliban's cowardly actions, the world rallied around Malala's cause of women's and girls' education. As part of a global day of action for Malala this weekend, the UN education envoy and former British prime minister Gordon Brown delivered an Avaaz petition signed by over 855,000 citizens to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, calling on him to roll out a massive education stipend programme for girls' education across Pakistan.
Delivering the petition, Brown said: "I believe that if we act together in speaking out, as Avaaz's members have done, we can begin to deliver on our promise of education: for Malala, for the children of Pakistan, and for the 61 million children who do not receive an education around the world."
Transforming the lives of 7 million girls
Pakistan already has an existing stipend programme to encourage 600,000 poor families to send their girls to school. Now, global citizens are calling for it to be scaled up and renamed Malala Money, in honour of the brave young girl.
Stipend programmes work: they have revolutionised the lives of girls in Bangladesh, and were introduced to the Punjab in Pakistan in 2004, helping to increase girls' school enrolment by 9%. There are a lot of barriers to getting girls into school – a lack of female teachers, not enough classrooms and increasing security threats – but the key blocker is poverty, which is precisely what Malala Money stipends can help overcome.
Currently, the amount per child is $2.50 a month. A national Malala Money roll-out plan could increase that amount and extend the stipend to 7 million girls in Pakistan who are currently not getting an education.
After Malala was attacked, Muslims from across the world came together to denounce the Taliban's despicably cynical attack. Here are some images of those demonstrations. Support Malala's bravery and drown out the hate by sharing these inspiring photos with everyone you know:
Updated 9 November, 11:00 EST, and 12 November, 13:00 EST