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Malala's first grant will educate 40 girls

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 10:31 PM EDT, Fri April 5, 2013
  • NEW: Malala Yousafzai speaks with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon
  • Malala announces her first grant to help girls in her home region in Pakistan
  • Angelina Jolie will donate $200,000 to the fund to help educate Pakistani girls
  • In March, Malala returned to school for the first time since the Taliban shot her in October

(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 on Thursday.

"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.

Malala Yousafzai returns to school for the first time at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham, England, on March 19, 2012. The 15-year-old said she had "achieved her dream." Malala Yousafzai returns to school for the first time at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham, England, on March 19, 2012. The 15-year-old said she had "achieved her dream."
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"They shot her at point-blank range in the head and made her stronger," she said.

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"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.

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"She doesn't want to be center of attention -- her goal is progress, not notoriety."

Jolie will donate $200,000 to the Malala Fund, which was set up to support the education of girls in Pakistan, Women in the World said.

The fund was established on Malala's behalf by the Vital Voices Global Partnership, a non-governmental organization founded in 1997 by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Malala spoke via Skype on Friday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said he was "deeply impressed" with her.

"When we work together we can achieve our goal, and our goal is simple: peace and happiness in this world," she told Ban. "The way to see peace is through education. It is an honor for me to be associated with the U.N. I want to tell the world how important education is."

Ban said, "The U.N. will always be with you and the many people like you."

"If we educate a woman, we educate a family, a community and a country," he said.

Earlier this week in Washington, Malala was presented with Vital Voices' Global Trailblazer Award, in "recognition of her courage, conviction, and vision for the future."

Previous recipients of the award include Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

READ MORE: Malala's journey from near death to recovery

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.

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.

READ MORE: Teen at school for first time since being shot by Taliban

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