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Malala urges Aussie youth to change the world

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The youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate left an 8,000-strong Sydney audience on their feet cheering after she shared her life story and encouraged young people to change the world.

Ten years ago, Malala Yousafzai thought she had lost her dreams when the Taliban announced females were banned from attending school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Now, she fights for the female right to an education and encourages everyone, especially young people, to follow their dreams.

“I decided I would speak out for my right for education and now I’m speaking for 130 million girls who aren’t in school,” she told the crowd at the Sydney’s International Convention Centre on Monday night.

Yousafzai rose to international prominence in 2012 when a masked gunman got on a bus and shot her in the face as she was on her way home from school in northern Pakistan, in response to her public advocacy of girls’ right to an education. She was 15.

Before being shot, Yousafzai had been blogging for four years for the BBC about life under the Taliban and the restrictions on the lives of local women.

Her family relocated to England after the shooting, allowing Yousafzai to complete her secondary and tertiary education.

At 17, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and established a foundation in her name to fundraise for girls’ education.

She told the Sydney crowd about the discrimination faced by women globally and praised the ‘Me Too’ movement for raising awareness of gender inequality in western countries.

“In the West, it’s often pressed down or never been mentioned in this way before,” she said.

“It’s a big achievement in my opinion.”

Yousafzai, who is studying at Oxford University, offered many words of advice to the captivated audience including that refugees across the world should be treated better.

Having been displaced from her own country, Yousafzai said diversity shouldn’t be treated as a threat but rather as a way of connecting with other cultures.

“We should not be hostile, we should not be cruel,” she said. “Let’s be more human regarding refugees.”

It’s the Nobel laureate’s first trip to Australia and she brought along her father, who she describes as an inspiration and instrumental to her success, as well as her mother and brother.

Yousafzai  received a standing ovation from the crowd when she urged young people to believe in themselves.

“Do not let your age stop you from changing the world,” she said.

“I started speaking out when I was 11. I was not thinking for a second that just because I’m young I can’t change the world.”

The event, organised by The Growth Faculty, is part of its Women World Changers series and was hosted by ABC journalist Annabel Crabb.

Yousafzai will speak in Melbourne on Tuesday.

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