Malala’s first grant will educate 40 girls in Pakistan

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By Laura Smith-Spark

(CNN) — Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has said 40 girls in Pakistan will be the first to benefit from a fund set up in her name after she was shot in the head by the Taliban for her efforts to promote girls’ education.

She announced the $45,000 grant for education in the Swat Valley — the Taliban stronghold where she’s from — in a video played at the Women in the World summit in New York City.

“We are going to educate 40 girls, and I invite all of you to support the Malala Fund,” she said.

“Let us turn the education of 40 girls into 40 million girls.”

Actress and U.N. special envoy Angelina Jolie spoke movingly of Malala’s courage in the face of the Taliban’s attempt to silence her, saying there was “always something special” about her.

“They shot her at point blank range in the head and made her stronger,” she said.

“In a brutal attempt to silence her voice, it grew louder, and she more resolute in calling on the entire world, not just Pakistan, to ensure the right for every girl and boy to an education.”

Jolie also paid tribute to Malala’s reluctance to be in the limelight for her own sake, despite her new influence as a campaigner and role model.

“She is powerful, but she is also a sweet, creative, loving little girl who wants to help others and work for others,” Jolie said.

“She doesn’t want to be center of attention — her goal is progress, not notoriety.”

Malala, now 15, rose to global fame after the attack which almost claimed her life last October.

She had already come to national and international attention through a blog she wrote about her life and girls’ right to learn.

Earlier this week, Malala was honored in Washington with the Global Trailblazer Award, in “recognition of her courage, conviction, and vision for the future.”

The award was given by the Vital Voices Global Partnership, a non-governmental organization set up by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 1997.

Previous recipients include Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In March, Malala returned to school for the first time since the masked Taliban gunmen shot her on a school bus.

She’s attending lessons in Birmingham, England, the city where doctors treated her after she received initial care in Pakistan.

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