A young Pakistani activist for the universal right to education became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner today, along with an Indian activist working to end child labor.
Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai shared the prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education,” according to the Nobel committee.
Satyarthi, 60, founded the Save the Childhood Movement in 1980 and has survived numerous physical attacks, the most recent in 2011, while rescuing kids from sweatshops.
“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,” the Nobel Committee said. “He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.”
Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in October 2012 while going to school. She was targeted for speaking out against Taliban forces and speaking out for the right to go to school, free of fear, free to achieve whatever she wants without being under the thumb of Islamist forces.
“Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay 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. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education,” the Nobel Committee said.
“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. Many other individuals and institutions in the international community have also contributed. It has been calculated that there are 168 million child labourers around the world today. In 2000 the figure was 78 million higher. The world has come closer to the goal of eliminating child labour.”