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Buffalo Business First: Buffalo-based education group sponsors Malala speech at UB

by Tracey Drury, Reporter for Buffalo Business First

A visit to Buffalo by Malala Yousafzai Tuesday night will provide a huge opportunity for a local nonprofit agency to help grow awareness about educational opportunity for girls around the world.

Yousafzai, or just “Malala” as she’s become known around the world, has spent most of her life standing up for the rights of women to an education. In 2012 at age 15, she was shot in her native Pakistan by a Taliban gunman. She not only survived but went on to write a book and became the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

On Sept. 19, she’ll open the University at Buffalo’s 31st annual Distinguished Speakers Series. Her visit is co-sponsored by the Girls Education Collaborative, a Buffalo-based nonprofit founded in January 2012 that supports improved educational opportunities for girls around the world along with the UB School of Management’s Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness.

Anne Wadsworth, executive director of GEC, said bringing Malala to Buffalo began almost immediately after GEC heard she was beginning a speaking tour. The collaborative pitched the idea to UB, but it didn’t work out until this year’s series.

“She’s not doing a lot of speaking engagements, so it really speaks to the reputation of UB’s speaker series that they got to a yes,” she said. “The response to Malala has been so tremendous. It really demonstrates, once again in a different way, that Buffalo is really energized by being part of these global conversations.”

Malala’s message resonates for the GEC, which has focused much of its efforts on supporting a library and science center at the Kitenga School For Girls at the Kitenga Village Project in northern Tanzania, which opened in January for 59 girls, a number that will double this coming January when the second class enrolls. The organization is beginning a five-year strategic plan to raise $2 million to help boost enrollment at the boarding school to 480 girls. Wadsworth hopes Tuesday’s speaking event helps give the collaborative a chance to share its message.

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