Malala advocates education for all at Women in Physics conference

21 July 2017

Internationally renowned activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai spoke at the International Conference on Women in Physics in Birmingham on 20 July.



Yousafzai, known everywhere simply as Malala following the attempt on her life by the Taliban in Pakistan that failed to stop her continuing campaign for girls’ education, appealed to women physicists from around the globe to spread the message of “education for all”.

Addressing more than 200 delegates on the final day of the four-day conference, Malala spoke about her work and efforts to encourage and ensure opportunities in developed and developing countries for young women to enter education.

She said: “I have just one ask of people attending this international conference, which is that delegates spread the message of education for all, and inspire others to do the same.  Advocating education brings change and that change brings hope and opportunity to young women around the world.”

Malala, who was targeted and shot by Taliban activists at the age of 15, recovered from her injuries in Pakistan and in Birmingham, went on to form Malala’s Fund and was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, making her at age 17 the youngest ever Nobel Laureate. She is also a United Nations’ Messenger for Peace with a focus on education. Malala's Fund is an organisation dedicated to giving all girls access to education,

Representatives of 60 countries attended the conference, which was organised by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics in partnership with the IOP and the universities of Birmingham, Nottingham and Warwick.

IOP fellow Professor Nicola Wilkin, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy and chair of ICWIP’s local organising committee, said: “Hosting the conference has been an incredible experience for the UK physics community. Every time I stood at the podium and saw the largely female delegates I had to stop and remind myself that this was a physics audience.”

The week’s proceedings also included addresses from IOP Honorary Fellows Professor Dame Athene Donald and Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who received the IOP President’s Medal. In a lecture following the medal presentation, Bell Burnell concluded by saying: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

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