In a reversal from the previous two years, individuals, and not international bodies, have won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The young girl who was savagely shot aboard a school bus by Islamist fanatics for promoting education for girls, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, was one recipient of the Peace Prize. The other recipient is an Indian man, Kailash Satyarthi, who also helped promote universal schooling and protecting children from abuse and exploitation.
The announcement was made this morning in Oslo, Norway, by the Nobel committee chair, Thorbjorn Jagland.
The world was captured by the brutality of the attack on the girl referred to universally as “Malala.” The Taliban thugs boarded her school bus on Oct. 9, 2012, specifically to murder her. They shot her in the head and left her to die because she championed the cause of education for girls. But she didn’t die, instead she became an enduring symbol of her cause.
Last year, a little over a year after her attempted murder, Malala spoke at the United Nations. She spoke on July 12, her 16th birthday.
“The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens,” Yousafzai said to her audience at the U.N. “The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.”
The day of her speech was declared Malala Day by the U.N But Malala said it was “not my day,” but a day for every woman, boy and girl struggling for their rights.
“Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured,” she said. “I am just one of them. So here I stand, one girl among many.”
“I speak not for myself but for those without voice … those who have fought for their rights — their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” And from just over the border in India comes the other recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Kailash Satyarthi has been in the human rights world for longer than Malala has been alive. He has been crusading against child slavery and also for the right to education. Because of his many successful efforts to free enslaved children, Satyarthi has also been the victim of assassination attempts.
In 2011, Satyarthi was attacked while rescuing child slaves from clothing sweatshops in Delhi. In 2004 he and his colleagues were attacked while rescuing children from a local circus mafia in India. It is estimated that Satyarthi has freed over 75,000 bonded and child slaves in India, and developed a model for educating and rehabilitating the children following their emancipation.