The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two champions against the oppression of children and for their right to education. Pakistani Malala Yousafzai is the youngest ever Nobel winner, aged 17.
In 2012, in the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan, Taliban Islamic fundamentalists attacked her school bus, singled her out and shot her in the head with a Colt 45 to silence her blog saying girls have a right to education. She pulled through, moved to Britain and carried on.
Her courage and articulate dedication to her cause won her international fame. Among many other accolades was the European Parliament’s 2013 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a petition in Yousafzai’s name, demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015.
In a speech, she said: “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution, education first.”
The Malala Fund she set up supports education advocacy groups with a focus on Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya.
Awarded the Peace Prize jointly with Yousafzai is Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.
Outside a meeting in the European Union institutional heartland of Brussels, Satyarthi remarked: ‘‘Again, the politicians came with good words and rhetoric, not with resources. They have come with their notebooks, not with their cheque books. They should have come with their cheque books and given money to the poorest of the poor, for children to go to school, because we feel that school is the only way to attain rights in this world.”
Satyarthi gave up being an electrical engineer in 1980 to campaign against child labour. The 60-year-old says that in his country alone there could be 60 million children working for their illegal exploiters’ financial gain, “suffering in slavery, bonded labour and trafficking.”