Two champions of children have won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi were honored “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” (New York Times)
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- Who is Malala?
- At 17, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest winner of Nobel Peace Prize.
- She is an aspiring politician working to “save” Pakistan from fundamentalism and corruption. Malala does not yet belong to a political party, although she has already met with President Obama. (And was brave enough to say she disagreed with his policies regarding use of military drones in Pakistan.) Read more about Malala’s accomplishments here.
- To the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Malala is the “symbol of infidels and obscenity.” The TTP is perhaps better known as the Pakistani Taliban.
- Malala is also a best-selling author of a memoir, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
- Malala is a Sunni Muslim from the Swat Valley, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
- Why did Malala win the Nobel Prize?
- Malala is an outspoken supporter of human rights, focusing on the right of girls to attend schools.
- She is the founder of the Malala Fund:
- “We amplify the voices of the girls to keep them in the spotlight, inspire girls globally and drive action on girls’ issues by the global community.”
- “We advocate at the international, national and local level for policy and system changes that give girls access to a high quality education at a community level.”
- “We invest in community centered scalable solutions that provide quality education with potential for systems level change by empowering local leaders and educators.”
- Is Malala the first Pakistani to win a Nobel Prize?
- No, theoretical physicist Abdus Salam won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979. (Malala is the first Pakistani to win the Nobel Peace Prize, however.)
- How did Malala gain the attention of the international community?
- Malala was inspired by her father, Ziauddin. He is the owner of a school and outspoken education activist—as was his father before him. Malala and her father began speaking to local community groups about the rights and opportunities of Pakistani girls when Malala was in elementary school.
- Malala has been a journalist and human rights advocate since she was 11 years old. She was a blogger for the BBC’s Urdu service during the Taliban’s growing influence in the region in 2008. Malala’s blogs and radio addresses exposed the restrictions and violent suppression of girls’ education in Swat: Girls’ schools were burned, girls were banned from schools, and students had to avoid gunfire in the ongoing “Battle of Swat” being waged between the Pakistani military and the TTP. Read translated excerpts from her “Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl” here.
- The New York Times later made Malala the subject of a documentary. Watch “Class Dismissed” here.
- In 2012, on her way to school, Malala was shot in the head by Taliban militants. This horrific incident drew international attention to the worsening situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially for women.
Listen to Ziauddin Yousafzai talk about “My Daughter, Malala”
- Where do Malala and her family live?
- In Birmingham, England. They are reluctant to return to Pakistan until Malala’s safety is more secure, although she Skypes with her friends in Pakistan almost daily. The Yousafzai family moved to the United Kingdom seeking care for Malala, then in a coma, after she was shot. She recovered at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, which specializes in treating soldiers injured in conflict.
- Do Pakistani Muslims oppose Malala and her support for women’s and girls’ rights?
- In fact, after she was shot, Pakistani Muslim clerics issued a fatwa against the men who assaulted Malala. A fatwa is a non-binding Islamic legal pronouncement. Read more about the complex fatwa processes here. Read about the fatwa issued against the gunmen to attempted to assassinate Malala here.
- Pakistani law enforcement also pursued the assailants. Several accused gunmen had their charges dismissed, while the identified leader of the conspiracy remains at large. The suspect’s sister has apologized to Malala.
- There is some frustration from the Pakistani educational community, however, about the global attention to Malala: “It’s all Malala, Malala, Malala,” says one mathematics teacher. “There are hundreds of people who have sacrificed everything and lost everything. No one has given them anything.”
- How is Malala promoting peace?
- The Malala Fund is pursuing social, legal, and economic opportunities for girls.
- Malala has inspired worldwide support for women’s and girls’ rights, especially the right to education.
- There is the “We are Malala” campaign, whose goals are:
- Join Malala’s fight for free expression
- Condemn the Taliban for their inhumanity.
- Support the right of every child in Pakistan to an education, regardless of gender or faith.
- A World at School “stands with Malala” in its goal of getting all children in school by 2015, a crucial part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Both Malala and A World at School are currently focusing on education in Syria and Nigeria.
- The United Nations Global Education First Initiative, inspired by Malala after she spoke to the UN in 2013, is working to get 15 million working children into school.
- There is the “We are Malala” campaign, whose goals are:
- Malala shared her Nobel Peace Prize with another education advocate, Kailash Satyarthi. Have peace prize winners shared the prize before?
- Yes, often.
- For example, in 2011, African leaders Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, and Yemeni leader Tawakkol Karman, shared the honor “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
- Entire organizations have also won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2013, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was honored.
- Yes, often.
- Who is Kailash Satyarthi?
- Kailash is the winner (with Malala Yousafzai) of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, and calls himself a “seeker of truth.”
- Kailash is an education advocate and critic of child labor. He earned an engineering degree and was a university lecturer before devoting his life to the struggle for human rights. Read more about Kailash’s accomplishments here.
- Like Malala, Kailash has been physically assaulted for promoting education and an end to child slavery and exploitation. Employers who use undocumented child labor have beaten him with baseball bats, for instance.
- Kailash is a Hindu living in New Delhi, India.
Listen to Kailish Satyarthi respond to the Nobel honor.
- Is Kailash the first Indian to win a Nobel Prize?
- No. Many Indians and people with Indian ancestry have won Nobel Prizes, being honored in such fields as literature (Rabindranath Tagore), physics (Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar), and economics (Amartya Sen).
- Mother Theresa, who was born in what is now Macedonia but lived in India during her adult life, was the only Indian previously honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1979.
- No, India’s most famous and influential peacebuilder, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, never won a Nobel Peace Prize. Read about the omission here.
- How is Kailash promoting peace?
- Kailash founded Goodweave—the first label verifying that textiles (particularly, rugs) bearing its mark were produced in South Asia without child labor. Read more about Goodweave here.
- Kailash has worked with governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals to link child labor with poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population growth, and labor rights.
- Malala and Kailash never set out to win the Nobel Peace Prize. They began by seeking understanding and peaceful solutions with their families, schools, and communities. How do you promote peace in your home, community, or school? How can you expand your efforts?
New York Times: Two Champions of Children Are Given Nobel Peace Prize
NG Collection: Nobel Prizes and Nobel Prize winners
New York Times: Class Dismissed