This year’s laureates for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize are Pakistani schoolgirl and gender equality activist, Malala Yousafzai, and Indian children’s rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi.
Both have encountered and overcome their many struggles in advocating for suppressed children and the universal right to education.
Malala, only 17 years old, is actually the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2012, she was shot in the head by the Taliban after campaigning for equal access to education for girls. This event made her a global figure.
After her recovery, she delivered her famous speech during the United Nation’s first ever Youth Takeover in 2013 – now known as Malala Day.
She said, “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution.”
She has become a beacon of hope for young adults around the world, advocating for “voiceless children” and girl’s rights to education.
After winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala gratefully said, “I’m feeling honored that I’m being chosen as a Nobel laureate. I am proud that I am the first Pakistani and the first young person who is getting this award.”
In an interview, she thanks her father for “not clipping her wings,” allowing her to prosper, and nurturing herself with knowledge to spread her campaign on children’s rights to education.
Though Malala now lives in England, she keeps in contact with her friends, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, who were also shot in 2012 and joined Malala in taking a stand for the cause for education.
“We send our heartfelt congratulations to our sister Malala Yousafzai for the prestigious honor of being awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize,” her friends said.
Malala’s friends joined her in launching the Global Citizenship Commission event, a joint initiative between Gordon Brown and New York University.
“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. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education,” said chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland.
Kailash Satyarhi, a child rights campaigner in India, also receives the Nobel Peace prize on December 10th alongside Malala. An advocate for an end to child slavery, Kailash, now 60, also fights against child labor.
In adhering to Gandhi’s principle of peaceful protest, he has headed the “Save the Children” movement since the 1980s.
In response to Al Jazeera, Satyarthi said that the Nobel Peace Prize “is the recognition of many voices of children who are victims of servitude, not just in India but the across the world”.
He told BBC: “It’s a great honor for all the Indians, it’s an honor for all those children who have been still living in slavery despite of all the advancement in technology, market and economy. And I dedicate this award to all those children in the world.”
In addition, he has successfully established a model for education and rehabilitation after saving many enslaved children.
The Nobel committee said, “Kailash has maintained the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests that focused on the exploitation of children for financial gain.”
The committee said, ” We 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”.
Both being extremely inspiring public figures, Malala and Kailash have overcome child marriage, gender discrimination, and child labor and they are now working together to better the relations between Pakistan and India.
Much is expected from this dynamic duo, who are willing to improve adverse situations within their respecive countries.
Young adults around the world and in our RPS community should be inspired by their stories and proceed to challenge themselves so that they may better contribute to society, whether it be through community service activities such as the “Day On for Service” or even simple acts of civil disobedience that show a commitment to a cause.