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It is a good day when champions of human rights are recognised for their efforts. Friday October 10th was one such day, when Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi were awarded the Noble Peace Prize. They edged out esteemed fellow nominees like Pope Francis, Jose Mujica… and Vladimir Putin!? 

So why were Malala and Kailash given the Peace Prize? Quite simply: because they fought for the realisation of the hopes and dreams of millions of mistreated children around the world. As Malala aptly put it, “This award is for all those children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard”.

Malala Yousafzai has fought a hard and courageous battle to highlight the importance of education for children. She was shot in the head by the Taliban for protesting against the organisation’s terror regime and denial of education for female children in Swat Valley. Far from being demoralised, Malala emerged from this brutal ordeal with an even greater fervour to campaign for the right to education and equal opportunities for girls. She has lobbied on many forums for these rights, her inspired speech in the United Nations in New York being a glittering example. Malala’s promise to continue her fight until every child has access to education is a response far more enduring then any violent message the Taliban could ever inflict. 

 

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Kailash Satyarthi, who shares the Nobel Peace Prize with Malala, is an equally committed advocate for children’s rights. He gave up his career as an electric engineer to put an end to child labour. Now 60 years old, he has spent a lifetime promoting and developing international conventions for the rights of children. One of Kailash’s many success stories in this fight has been the setup of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement) organization, which helps rehabilitate children who have faced exploitation as slave labours.

The right to education and well-being of children are concepts that transcend notions of age, religion or creed. Ms. Yousafzai and Mr. Satyarthi’s perseverance to uphold these values is testament to this. We must not forget, as President Hoover once said, that ‘children are our most valuable resource’. The protection of their innocence is an extremely worthy cause. This is what our Noble laureates are doing, and very few things are more deserving of recognition. 

 

 

Jaideep Salil

 

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