HAD President Aquino been awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for his treasonous efforts to fragment our state and wreck the constitutionally sanctioned and Congress-created domain of our Muslim fellow citizens, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, we would not have written an editorial lauding the Norwegian Nobel Committee. But we cannot help but rejoice in the choice of Malala Yousafzay and Kailash Satyarthi to be this year’s awardees.
As the Nobel Committee said in its announcement “in the poor countries of the world, 60% of the present population is under 25 years of age. It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.”
The Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzay and the Indian Kailash Satyarthi were made to share this year’s Peace Nobel Award for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Indeed, children must go to school and not be financially exploited.
Taking personal risks, Kailash Satyarthi boldly carries on Mahatma Gandhi’s example, leading different forms of peaceful protests and demonstrations, denouncing profit-motivated people and groups that subject children to various grave manners of exploitation. He has been an active voice in the drafting and approval of important international conventions on children’s rights and the banning of child labor. Estimates put at 168 million the number of child laborers around the world today. In 2000, the figure was almost 250 million. This means that the campaign against child labor has been succeeding.
The campaign against child labor and the campaign for girls’ right to be educated have a common ground in traditional societies. In some of these, tribal customs demand that girls serve only and forever as helpers in the family’s means of making a living. And girls are brought up to consider themselves as chattel whose place is to serve males–at first fathers and then elder siblings and finally husbands. With such customs, those who insist like Malala on the education of girls are seen as evil troublemakers.
Malala received global media attention and an outpouring of sympathy two years ago when the schoolgirl was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley because she was zealously campaigning to promote the education of girls. She miraculously recovered in a British hospital and resumed her campaign internationally, speaking out at the United Nations and other forums. Her example dramatically should persuade children and young people that they can surmount hardships and work for their own liberation.
The Nobel Committee also deserves special commendation for juxtaposing the heroic figures of an Indian and a Pakistani, a Hindu male and a Muslim girl, for the Nobel Peace Prize. While people to people, government to government and business to business relations between India and Pakistan are more or less steady, peace between the two countries is marred by territorial conflicts and periodic violence triggered by religious extremists.
May the awards for Malala and Kailash inspire lots of people the world over to follow their example.