On April 17, can you remain silent for 24 hours? Selena Gomez, Orlando Bloom, Jennifer Hudson, Seth Rogan, Clive Owen, Edward Norton and Martin Sheen are among the entertainers who hope you can.
They all appear in Free The Children’s new online video (see below) for #WeAreSilent, a 24-hour silent stand to raise awareness for the 31 million girls around the world who have been denied the right to attend school.
The issue was given even more international attention when in 2012 Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai — the brave young activist who defied the Talaban’s orders preventing girls an education — was shot three times, once in the head, almost killing her. Now 16 — and known simply by her first name — she is an international symbol of children’s right to an education. She has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Interestingly, according to statistics on Free The Children’s web site, almost as many boys aren’t in school either (26 million).
Free The Children is the international charity founded on the premise of children helping children and now an enormous educational motivator for youth to become activists and agents of change, as the organization calls them.
At the helm of #WeAreSilent are Malala; Shiza Shahid, CEO and founder of the Malala Fund; and Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children.
The vow of silence campaign — which Free The Children has done before — asks students to garner pledges per hour and then remain silent for a full 24 hours. But it also asks others to join in and spread the message.
According to a press release issued by Free The Children — this week people around the world are asked to show their support on social media by posting a photo of themselves on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with their finger to their lips in a shushing motion and the hashtag #WeAreSilent.
“On April 17, I will be silent to support those around the world who are denied their rights, denied an education and denied a voice to speak out,” Yousafzai said in a press statement. “We all have the right to be heard. By being silent, I hope the world will listen to the silenced voices of girls who want to go to school, and young people around the world who are struggling for equality.”
“Around the world today, 57 million children are not in school and 31 million of them are girls. By empowering young people to take a stand, we hope to make education a universal right,” Shahid said in her statement.
“We are excited to partner with Free The Children who have built a strong network of young people who are actively looking to affect positive change in our world. Working together, I hope we can further ignite this movement and drive awareness to help open the doors to education to all young people, especially girls.”
In the #WeAreSilent video, Gomez, Bloom, Hudson, Rogan, Owen, Norton, Sheen, in addition to J. Cole, Hannah Simone, Shay Mitchell, Joe Jonas, Reggie Watts, Big Sean and Evanna Lynch each tell a piece of Malala’s story as if in her voice.
“By standing up for her beliefs, Malala has inspired youth around the world to do the same,” said Kielburger. “She has given a face and a voice to the millions of girls denied the right to an education, and inspired a movement of young people passionate about changing the world around them.
“We feel especially connected to Malala’s struggle as this year Free The Children’s focus has been on providing access to schools for children around the world through our Year of Education initiative. Building on Malala’s example, we believe that change can start with one young person feeling empowered to take a stand. She has shown us that the courage of one person willing to speak-up can be a catalyst to changing the world.”
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