Last week, the Nobel committee announced that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize would be jointly awarded to two powerful activists within the Asian diaspora for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
17-year-old Pakistani education justice activist Malala Yousafzai skyrocketed to global fame for speaking out against the Taliban for their policies banning education for girls throughout her native Swat Valley, an area in the northwest region of Pakistan; her activism for the right of girls to have access to educational opportunities prompted an assassination attempt in 2012 that nearly claimed her life. Yousafzai (note: I use Yousafzai’s last name because female activists are often infantalized and dismissed by media coverage that selectively uses first names to refer to women where they do not for men) survived a gunshot to the head. Yet, her advocacy was undeterred and she has since become, quite legitimately, the face of female educational justice around the world. With last week’s announcement, Yousafzai becomes the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in history.
Kailash Satyarthi is a child rights advocate who founded Bachpan Bachao Andalan, a non-profit organization that focuses on child labour and human trafficking throughout South Asia. BBA organized the world’s largest campaign against child labour in 1998 in the form of its Global March Against Child Labour, and estimates that through its direct action has rescued over 80,000 children from bondage since the group’s founding in 1980.