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Malala Yousafzai and Archbishop of Canterbury in Dudley: WATCH our exclusive interview

Dudley | News | Published:

'Believe in yourself and dream beyond limits' – that was the message to young people from teenage activist Malala Yousafzai as she spoke with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The 19-year-old, who survived an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen four years ago, spoke boldly and passionately about education, women's rights, religion and faith in front of audience of 300 people at Dudley College.

Malala, who now lives in Birmingham, said she wanted her appearance alongside Archbishop Justin Welby to be a message of 'religious and cultural harmony' that would inspire young people, especially women, to stand up for what they believed.

She told the audience at Dudley College that she had been following her 'gut instinct' when she decided to make a stand demanding that girls be allowed to receive an education in 2009.

It had been sparked by the Taliban decision to start banning girls from attending school in her home province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in northwest Pakistan.

"I knew if I couldn't get my education, I couldn't get on with my life," she said.

Malala Yousafzai with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at the event

Malala began blogging for the BBC but her outspoken views led to her being shot in the head by a gunman on board her school bus on October 9, 2012.

A bullet narrowly missed the then 15-year-old's brain and she was airlifted first to Dubai and then on to Birmingham, where she was treated for life-threatening injuries at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Since her recovery she has become an advocate for girls' education and for women's rights, speaking around the globe, and in 2014 she became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

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She is a great believer in young people standing up for themselves and speaking out against discrimination.

Malala said: "It's important for youth to have a voice, to believe in themselves and this is the message I am here to deliver because when I started speaking out about women's education it started because I had faith and I had this belief in my voice.

"I think the Archbishop is an example to youth here. Their religious message, their cultural message is for them to speak out for their rights, never be silent about the discrimination they are facing in society." She said it was more important for girls and women to understand the true value of education. Women need to hold more hold leadership roles around the world and they shouldn't be afraid to try something new even if it's traditionally a men's job," added Malala.

"Young women don't understand how hard it is for women to be able to be independent so they need education – even more so they need to focus on it, to believe in themselves and gain their confidence that they are capable of doing anything and do not limit their dreams, do not limit themselves in the jobs they want to do, in the things they want to achieve in life – they need to dream beyond limits," she said.

The Archbishop was full of admiration for Malala, saying to her: "I'm struck by the leadership and imagination you had that made you want to do something to change things." Malala said it's her faith and belief in education that has inspired her to keep fighting, saying she has always had hope that things would get better.

When asked if she thought there would ever be peace in the world, she said: "It's tragic that we haven't yet achieved peace in the world and in some places things are getting worst. I think it's achievable, it's not impossible."

Malala said love was important and that everyone should put their different religions, faiths and cultures aside to work together to make changes. "Faith, colour and religion shouldn't separate us," she said. Unable to return to her homeland due to continued threats, she is now based in Birmingham where she has been able to see the many differences in education between the UK and her home country.

"For me it was a complete contrast to see how the education system was different here. You get in comparison quality education in the UK. You have facilities from having a science lab to library to good teachers, you receive computers, you are given iPads, you have everything available here.

"When I listen to my father's stories he used to sit under a tree and they only had a teacher and just a few books and that that was their struggle.

"Even now if you ask a child there they will say they want a pen, they want a book and I want to go to school – that's the young person's dream there."

Speaking about her future, Malala who is currently applying to university to study philosophy, politics and economics, said: "

I want to continue my campaigning for education through the Malala Fund and ensure that girls' voices are raised and that we empower young people, girls especially."

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