Malala of Pakistan, Satyarthi of India win Nobel Peace Prize

17-year-old Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai shares prestigious award with Indian anti-child slavery campaigner Kailash Satyarthi

Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday for risking their lives to fight for children’s rights.

The decision, announced in the Norwegian capital Oslo, made Malala, a 17-year-old student, the youngest-ever Nobel winner. She dedicated her prize to the “voiceless children” of the world.

The news set off celebrations on the streets of Mingora, the main town in Pakistan’s volatile Swat valley. At the town’s Khushal public school, which is owned by Malala’s father, students danced in celebration.

Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago while she was a student at the school for insisting that girls as well as boys had the right to an education. Surviving several operations with the help of British medical care, she continued both her activism and her studies.

Speaking from Birmingham, England, where she now lives after undergoing several operations, Malala said she was “honoured” to have been chosen as joint winner of the prize.

“I’m proud that I’m the first Pakistani and the first young woman, or the first young person, who is getting this award,” she said.

Indian campaigner against child labour Kailash Satyarthi reacts after winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Satyarthi, 60, has been at the forefront of a global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labour since 1980, when he gave up his career as an electrical engineer.

He has led the rescue of tens of thousands of child slaves and developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation. He has survived several attempts on his life.

“Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here. A lot of work still remains but I will see the end of child labour in my lifetime,” Satyarthi said in New Delhi. “If any child is a child slave in any part of the world, it is a blot on humanity. It is a disgrace.”

Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, said the award would further the rights of girls.

“[It will] boost the courage of Malala and enhance her capability to work for the cause of girls’ education,” he said.

Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan congratulated the nation, Malala and her family. “This has given pride to the whole of Pakistan,” he said.

The Nobel committee’s decision reflected a diplomatic balance, naming one activist from Pakistan and another from India, two countries that are bitter rivals; one Muslim and one Hindu; both sexes; an elder statesman of child’s rights and a youthful advocate.

The Nobel committee said Satyarthi showed “great personal courage” in heading peaceful forms of protest for children’s rights and was carrying on the tradition of another great Indian, Mahatma Gandhi.

The winners will split the prize money of US$1.1 million.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press

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