Malala Yousafzai is the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

10 Oct 2014

Education activist and co-winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, the education activist shot by the Taliban while going to school, has become the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, which she shares this year with children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

Two years ago, a gunman from the fundamentalist group shot Yousafzai (17) in the head in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat, but quick actions of British doctors visiting Pakistan saved her life.

Yousafzai has been championing girls’ education since the age of 11, when the Taliban overran her hometown of Mingora, Pakistan, and threatened to destroy the schools.

On 9 October 2012, a gunman boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, and shot her in the head.

Yousafzai underwent surgery in the UK and since then she has become a global figurehead in the fight for girls’ rights to an education.

The EU awarded her the Sakharov Prize and she was in Ireland last year to receive the Tipperary Peace Award.

Malala Yousafzai’s fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi

Satyarthi (60), from India, gave up his career as an engineer 34 years ago to spearhead the fight against exploitative child labour.

It is estimated there are 168m child labourers around the world today, down by 78m from 2000.

“Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” the Nobel Peace Prize committee stated.

“He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.

“Despite her youth, Malala 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. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.

“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. Many other individuals and institutions in the international community have also contributed. It has been calculated that there are 168m child labourers around the world today. In 2000, the figure was 78m higher. The world has come closer to the goal of eliminating child labour.

“The struggle against suppression and for the rights of children and adolescents contributes to the realisation of the ‘fraternity between nations’ that Alfred Nobel mentions in his will as one of the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize,” the committee said.

Malala Yousafzai image via Shutterstock

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years