The Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 has been awarded to India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education,” the committee said in a statement released on Friday.
The awards were announced in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, the committee’s chairman. “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” he said.
Kailash Satyarthi, a 60-year-old activist, founded the Baachpan Bachao Andolan for the protection of children’s rights and put an end to human trafficking. He has freed over 80,000 children from various forms of child labour through this movement. He is also the Chairperson of Global March Against Child Labour (GMACL), a worldwide network of trade unions, teachers’ and civil society organisations that work together to eliminate child labour.
“Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain. He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights,” Jagland said.
According to a report, Satyarthi’s work focuses on three main aspects – rescuing bonded children through raids, rehabilitating them by providing vocational training and working with the media to spread awareness and build consumer resistance.
“This is a very happy moment for every Indian,” he said to NDTV on hearing the news. “If with my humble efforts the voice of tens of millions of children in the world who are living in servitude is being heard, congratulations to all.”
Malala Yousafzai, 17, is the youngest recipient of the prize since its inception in 1901. Malala was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in October 2012 for her campaign for girls’ education.
After her recovery, Malala was unable to return to Pakistan and moved to Birmingham in Britain. She set up the Malala Fund that supports education groups, especially in Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya. She has become an international symbol of the opposition to Taliban and their refusal to educate women.
“Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzai has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education and has shown by example that children and young people too can contribute to improving their own situations,” Jagland said. “This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.”
Malala and Satyarthi will now be invited to attend an award ceremony in Oslo in December to receive a medal and $1.1 million prize money.
Image courtesy: The Nobel Foundation