Kailash Satyarthi, Malala Yousafzai

Nobel Peace Prize 2014

Kailash Satyarthi

(1954-)

Children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “focusing attention on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain”. Another important reason was that he followed the non-violent tradition of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

The Peace Prize laureate was born to a high-caste family. He completed a degree in electrical engineering, but soon gave up his career and his high-caste name, Sharma. Instead he called himself Satyarthi, which means “seeker of truth”.

Satyarthi founded the Save the Childhood Movement (BBA) and the GoodWeave organisation, which certifies carpet manufacturers who do not use child labour in their production. As of 2014, Satyarthi and his colleagues had freed 83 000 children from slavery.

In 1998, Satyarthi led a global march against child labour. This protest helped spur the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation (ILO) to adopt a convention protecting children against exploitation and hazardous work.

 

Malala Yousafzai

(1997-)

Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for the right of every child to receive an education. She was born in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. When the Islamic Taliban movement took control of the valley in 2008, girls’ schools were burned down. Malala kept a diary of the events, which was published in 2009 by BBC Urdu. In her diary she spoke out against the Taliban’s terrorist regime. An American documentary film made Malala internationally famous.

It was not long before the Taliban threatened her life. In 2012, Malala was shot in the head on a school bus by a Taliban gunman. She survived, but had to flee to England and live in exile there because a fatwa was issued against her.

In 2013, TIME magazine named Malala one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” On her 16th birthday she spoke in the United Nations. In her speech Malala called for the equal right to education for girls all over the world, and became a symbol of this cause.