Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, an ardent campaigner for a girl’s right to an education, and India’s Kailash Satyarthi, an activist fighting child labour, are the joint recipients of this year’s prize.
Announcing the decision in Oslo, Norway, the Nobel judges cited the winners’ “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
In a statement released today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Ms. Yousafzai’s resilience in confronting extremists who sought to keep young girls out of school with “courage and determination,” adding that “Malala” had shown what terrorists fear most – “a girl with a book.”
“Malala is a brave and gentle advocate of peace who through the simple act of going to school became a global teacher,” the Secretary-General said.
“The United Nations will continue to stand with her against extremism and for the right of girls everywhere to be free of violence, to go to school and to enjoy their right to an education.”
Ms. Yousafzai has become a regular presence at the United Nations since she was nearly killed in a targeted attack for lobbying for a girl’s right to an education. In 2013, the Secretary-General dubbed 12 July – Ms. Yousafzai’s birthday – as “Malala Day.”
Mr. Ban reserved similar accolades for Mr. Satyarthi, whose “heroic work” had pushed the world away from denial about abusive child labour to “acknowledgement, awareness and action,” raising public awareness, mobilizing opinion leaders, and galvanizing society.
“Kailash Satyarthi has been at the forefront of a worldwide movement for justice, global education and a better life for millions of children trapped in exploitative child labour,” he stated, citing Mr. Satyarthi’s tireless “leadership, commitment and personal sacrifice over many decades.”
“He has successfully brought together the key elements for success in the fight against the worst forms of child labour – moral outrage, personal commitment, and societal engagement,” concluded Mr. Ban.
In a separate statement, the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) applauded the “well-deserved honour” for the two activists and observed that the timing could not be more appropriate as 2014 also marked the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“This award will be an inspiration to all the millions of unnamed and unknown children around the world who battle silently in their own lives for the right to an education and the right to be heard and protected,” the agency added.