UNITED NATIONS - Pledging to devote her life for education of girls, Malala Yousafzai has said she does not want to be known as the girl the Taliban attempted to assassinate but as ‘the girl who struggled for her rights’.

“The attack on October 9 was just a part of my life,” she said at a well-attended reception held on Saturday night at the Pakistan House where Gordon Brown, a former British Prime Minister and now United Nations Special Envoy for Education, was also present.

“I want to work hard; I want to sacrifice my whole life for the education of girls,” she said. “And to be true, I want to say that I don’t want to be the girl who was shot by the Taliban, I want to be the girl who struggled for her rights.”

The reception was held at the residence of Pakistan UN Ambassador Masood Khan, who highlighted her epic struggle against ‘forces of darkness’, her nobility, dignity and compassion.

“Malala is the true face of Pakistan. She is the true face of Islam,” he said amidst loud applause from the large and distinguished gathering.

Malala spoke a day after her stirring address at the United Nations on Friday, her first public speaking engagement since a Taliban gunman shot her in the head last October in a bid to end her campaign to get girls into schools.

She said she was determined to keep her struggle “for a right to live in peace, for a right to go to school.”

The Taliban and other extremists “do not understand the importance of education,” Malala said, pointing out that they are still blasting schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and killing innocent children.

The Taliban were among “people who think that when a woman goes to school she will be empowered, and they are afraid of it,” she said amid applause.

“If we work together, we will soon see that there will be many schools created in Pakistan and Afghanistan and poor countries. And we will see that every woman and every girl will have the same rights as men have,” Malala said.

“We do want equality, we are not like men,” she said in lighter vein, evoking laughter.

Malala is expected to return to New York for a summit on education on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly of world leaders in late September.

In his brief remarks Gordon Brown said Malala’s UN speech was one of a best he had heard in his life. Another speech which impressed him was US President John Kennedy’s historic 1961 inaugural address in which the US leader said, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”

Brown said Malala’s speech was just the start of a momentous push for change in the run up to 2015, to deal with the education emergency.”

Getting all children into primary school by 2015 was one of the Millennium Development Goals agreed at a world summit in 2000.

Malala was given several standing ovations for her speech Friday when she said she would not be silenced by the Taliban. She declared, “Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”

Brown said Malala’s speech was certain to be featured in the book of records.

“(Malala) spoke out on the right of girls to seek an education, and the Taliban saw her as a target for assassination,” he said.

In his welcoming remarks, Ambassador Masood Khan said since Malala’s arrival he had been asked repeatedly what Pakistan was doing to promote education. “A lot,” he said. “But we need to go a long way.”

“The new government in Pakistan led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made education for all a strategic priority,” the Pakistani envoy told his guests. “The government is determined to improve access and quality of education in all sectors.

Priority is being given to poor communities. A law passed last year makes universal education free and compulsory. We are enrolling out of school children. We have accelerated our plans to meet the 2015 goal of universal education.

“All children of Pakistan will, Inshallah, hear the bells of schools inside their schools.”

Paying high tributes to Malala, Masood Khan said she epitomises that futuristic vision, whose seeds are sown in today’s soil.

“Yesterday she delivered a speech at the UN, with the poise and the dignity and the maturity and the wisdom of a statesman. In fact, she excelled many statesmen both in oratory and substance. Because she is original,” he said.

“And yes, we heard your message loud and clear: we will have to eliminate illiteracy, poverty and terrorism to pave the way for education, for tolerance, for development, for harmony,” he said, looking towards Malala.

“Malala is an abiding trend; a lasting phenomenon. We are proud she comes from Pakistan. She was a national icon before she became an international icon.”

Dr Nafis Sadik, a former head of UN population fund, also paid tributes to Malala and wished her success in her noble mission. The reception was also addressed by senior officials from various agencies.