17-year-old Malala Yousafzai has been named the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for supporting the “struggle against the suppression of children and young people.” Yousafazai, a Pakistani teen who addressed the UN on her 16th birthday, is particularly well known for her advocacy of the rights of all children to an education, after she was shot in the head by the Taliban while on her way to school in 2012. She shares this year’s Nobel Peace Prize prize with Kailash Satyarthi, a 60-year-old Indian activist who works in the tradition of Mahatma Ghandi to lead peaceful protests that focus “on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.”
Awarding the prize to Yousafzai and Satyarthi, the Nobel Institute underscored “[i]t 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.” In Pakistan alone there are there are 25 million children ages 5 to 16 who are not in school, more than half of whom are girls, CNN reports. Meanwhile, it is believed that there are 168 million child laborers around the world today.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif released a statement congratulating Yousafazi, “She is [the] pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled… Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment.” While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated “Kailash Satyarthi has devoted his life to a cause that is extremely relevant to entire humankind. I salute his determined efforts… Malala Yousafzai‘s life is a journey of immense grit (and) courage.”
The Institute also highlighted the specific importance of Yousafzai and Satyarthi sharing the Peace Prize: “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.”
Malala Yousafzai is expected to release a statement after the end of classes today in her adopted hometown of Birmingham, England.
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