Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and India’s Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for risking their lives to fight for children’s rights. 60-year old Satyarthi has been at the forefront of a global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labor since 1980, when he gave up his career as an electrical engineer.
The grassroots activist has led the rescue of tens of thousands of child slaves and developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation. He has also survived several attempts on his life. Satyarthi told the Associated Press on Friday he was proud to be an Indian and that the prize was “a big honor to hundreds of millions of the children who have been deprived of their childhood and freedom and education” and would help in the fight against child labor and slavery.
His organisation, the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), has been at the forefront of the drive against child labor in India for years. One of Satyarthi’s big achievements is the promotion of a consumer awareness campaign in Europe and the US aimed at dissuading consumers from buying carpets made by child laborers and simultaneously endorsing goods produced without exploiting children.
He also welcomed the fact that he was a joint winner along with Malala, who at 17 becomes the youngest-ever novel prize winner. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Satyarthi, saying the entire nation was proud of his momentous achievement. Modi tweeted,”Congratulations to Shri Kailash Satyarthi on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The entire nation is proud of his momentous achievement.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai is currently studying in Birmingham, England, but the news set off celebrations on the streets of Mingora, the main town in Pakistan’s volatile Swat valley, with residents greeting each other and distributing sweets.
When she was a student there, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago for insisting that girls as well as boys have the right to an education. Surviving several operations with the help of British medical care, she continued both her activism and her studies. Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, said on Friday that Pakistan was proud of what Malala had achieved and she had brought “honor and respect” to Pakistan in the eyes of the world.
This report is compiled with inputs from The Associated Press.