The Nobel Committee made history this week when it awarded its coveted Peace Prize to 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, the youngest-ever recipient of the prize and an international advocate for girls’ education. The prize also went to Kailash Satyarthi, 60, of India, a long-time campaign leader against child labor and trafficking. Both recipients will share the $1.1 million prize.
Committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland awarded the prizes in Oslo saying, “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”
Satyarthi has led multiple protests and demonstrations since 1980—all peaceful—against the exploitation of children in India and has founded several organizations to fight what he calls “children in the world living in servitude.”
“Poverty must not be used as an excuse to continue child labor and exploitation of children,” he told an Indian news channel. “It’s a triangular relationship between child labor, poverty and illiteracy, and I have been trying to fight all of these things together. … If with my humble efforts the voice of tens of millions of children in the world who are living in servitude is being heard, congratulations to all.”
Yousafzai survived a bullet to the head at age 15, given to her by a Taliban member for campaigning on behalf of girls’ education in Pakistan, reported The New York Times. She was brought to the U.S. to recover and has since become an international celebrity, publishing a memoir and speaking around the nation, including at the White House.
“[Yousafzai] has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations,” said Jagland. “This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle, she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.”
Watch this amazing interview with Yousafzai by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.