OSLO: The Nobel Peace Prize went Friday to 17-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi for their work promoting children’s rights.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the prize saying that peaceful global development can only come about if children and the young are respected.
Malala is the youngest person to be awarded the globally prestigious annual prize.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education,” the jury said.
Malala Yousafzai — who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 — was recognized for fighting for years for the right of girls to education, showing by example that children can contribute to improving their own situations.
“This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances,” the committee said.
“Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.”
It also said that the prize recognized work by Satyarthi to head various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.
“Children must go to school and not be financially exploited,” the committee said. “In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.”
Yousafzai was at school in the city of Birmingham in central England when she was told she had won the Nobel Peace Prize, a spokeswoman said.
“Malala is at school as normal today,” she said, adding that the Nobelist would hold a press conference later on Friday.
Malala attends Edgbaston High School, a private school in an upmarket part of Birmingham.
Satyarthi said Friday he was “delighted” to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, calling it “recognition of our fight for child rights”.
Kailash thanked the Nobel committee for “recognizing the plight of millions of children who are suffering in this modern age”, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
The 60-year-old activist, who has a relatively low profile even in India, heads the Global March Against Child Labor, a combination of some 2,000 social groups and union organizations in 140 countries.
He is credited with helping tens of thousands of children forced into slavery by businessmen, landowners and others to gain their freedom.
Reacting to his win, he credited India’s “alive” and “vibrant” democracy for the success of his campaign.
“Something which was born in India has gone global and now we have a global movement against child labor,” he said in an interview on Indian television.
“After receiving this award I feel that the people will give more attention to the cause of the children in the world.”