The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 emphasizes that one important path to peace is through the promotion and observance of human rights . This year’s award is a human rights prize and a shared peace prize – shared between the youngest peace prize winner in the prize’s history, Pakistani Malala Yousafzay and Indian Kailash Satyarthi. The two belong to two different religions and come from two different countries, Pakistan and India. However, the two share a strong commitment to children’s rights and to children’s education, especially education for girls. They are thus waging a battle against common problems from their respective points of view. On top of that, the award comes in a year where the Convention on the Rights of the Child is 25 years old.
- Who are the Peace Prize winners?
- Why did they get the award?
- How has the Peace Prize been received?
- Why is education so important for peace?
The two prize winners have excelled in a brave fight for children’s rights and against the oppression of children. Many see the award for the two as a recognition of the significant work the two have done for children’s rights. At the same time, the award is also a support and encouragement for the further work. Yes, the price itself gives attention and wind in the sails for the business of the two.
In a way, work for children has a tailwind – child mortality has halved since 1990, from approx. 12.7 million to approx. 6.3 million ( UNICEF , 2014) children died before the age of five in 2012. In addition, a percentage of more children than before go to school. From 2000 to 2012 alone, the number of children outside the school gates dropped from 102 to 58 million. But even though children’s rights are more taken into account in many parts of the world, much remains to be done : No child should be left without schooling. There are still 168 million child workers worldwide, and there are still fewer girls than boys in school.
Many would say that poverty can probably explain child labor and violations of children’s rights, but countries can no longer use the poverty card as an excuse for not doing something about such violations.
2: Who is Malala Yousafzay?
Outspoken and brave, the schoolgirl and blogger Malala Yousafzay (17) has for several years stood up for girls and their right to education . Thus, she has challenged traditionalist and religiously conservative forces in Pakistan. At least parts of these currents are represented by the Taliban. Malala is the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Already as an 11-year-old school student, she began to speak critically about the Taliban , which has both an Afghan and a Pakistani part.
Unlike many men in Pakistan, his father, who is a schoolteacher, supported Malala’s struggle to get an education. Malala herself has thanked her father in the following words: “Thank you for never cutting off my wings, and rather letting me fly and continue to work for what I am passionate about.” As a girl in the Taliban-controlled (after 2001) Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan, it was not at all a matter of course that girls should receive an education. Among other things, the Taliban is notorious for destroying and setting fire to schools, and especially girls’ schools in the area.
One day in October 2012, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban activist on the school bus on her way home from school. Severely wounded, she was brought to England and from there pursues the further work of promoting children’s and girls’ right to education. With the Taliban threats hanging over her, the situation so far is too dangerous for her in Pakistan. From England, she may have greater opportunities to gain international attention, but perhaps reduced opportunities for national impact?
Is she too young to carry the Peace Prize, as some have claimed? There is little indication of that. She has won several awards, including a Pakistani Peace Prize given only to young people under 18 years of age. She has handled all media uproar in a dignified manner.
As Malala Yousafzay has pointed out: Lack of education for girls is part of the oppression and abuse of them as women later in life. She does a lot to uncover this connection. Then education for girls becomes a key to a more dignified life later in life.
3: Who is Kailash Satyarthi?
The 60-year-old – about the average age of a Nobel Peace Prize winner – electrical engineer Kailash Satyarthi has been working against child labor and direct slavery in India for decades. At times, the agenda has also been global, among other things as a collaboration with the ILO – the international working organization of the UN. He established and has long been at the forefront of the Save the Children (Bachpan Bachao Andolan) and Global March Against Child Labor movements . According to historyaah.com, the latter in 1998 helped pave the way for the ILO to adopt a convention against the worst forms of child labor. . In many ways, Kailash is said to resemble the Indian liberation hero Mahatma Gandhi in his struggle – a man who, using non-violent methods, civil disobedience and marches, sought to gain attention and create commitment to his cause.
He has been beaten and threatened several times, and close associates have been killed. Satyarthi has literally rescued 85,000 child laborers from inhuman conditions in dark basements. On his own, he and his staff took them out to school and rehabilitation. From time to time they have to pay debts for the parents of the child workers so that the children and their families can more easily start a new life. Some of the former child laborers “pay back” to those who saved them, when they work against child labor in their home villages.
Kailash Satyarthi often refers to a vicious circle of poverty that creates child labor and, in turn, child labor that reproduces poverty, partly because child workers do not receive an education. “If children do not get an education, they will remain poor,” he said. In other words, education is a key to development , according to Satyarthi, who has been a persistent and tireless advocate for children’s rights since 1980. Yes, really since he started a fundraising campaign for used textbooks and money as an 11-year-old. In this way, some families could afford to pay for the education of their children. In total, he has received more than 10 awards and accolades for his work.