Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Two Child Advocates

By Simon McMurchie ’15

Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani child education activist who gained international fame after being shot by the Taliban for her beliefs in 2012, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize Friday along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

Malala Yousafzai, shown here at the United Nations, is the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize, at the age of 17. (Photo: New York Times)

Malala Yousafzai, shown here at the United Nations, is the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize, at the age of 17. (Photo: New York Times)

Yousafzai, who now lives in Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, received news of the award during her school day. She said she was, “honored” at the selection. Thorbjorn Jagland, head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the group responsible for awarding the prize, commended Yousafzai for her courage through hardship. He declared that, “Through her heroic struggle, she has become a leading spokespersons for girls’ rights to education.”

Satyarthi, the other recipient, has been a lifelong activist in the struggle against child labor and human trafficking in his home country. Jagland spoke of him favorably, “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.”

There is an obvious importance that an Indian and a Pakistani will be sharing the award, as the relationship between the two nations has been difficult in recent years. Jagland, and by extension the Nobel Committee, understood this and lauded the fact that two activists could overcome their differences in support of an important cause.

He spoke of the importance of their efforts, saying, “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important fact for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”