Children's Rights Activist Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

( [email protected] ) Oct 10, 2014 12:35 PM EDT
Nobel Peace Prize Award Recipients
Kailash Satyarthi, left, Malala Yousafzai, right, were awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

A young Pakistani woman and Indian man who have risked their lives to fight for children's rights were awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in honor of their "struggle against the suppression of children and young people".

Malala Yousafzai, 17, and Kailash Satyarthi, 60, will split the Nobel award of $1.1 million which was presented to them on Friday.

Malala, who is the youngest ever recipient of the prize, came to global attention after she was shot in the head by the Taliban -- two years ago Thursday -- for her efforts to promote education for girls in Pakistan. After recovering from surgery, she has taken her campaign to the world stage, notably with a speech last year at the United Nations.

She said Friday that the award is a "great honor for me," and that she's honored to share it with Satyarthi.

"I'm proud that I'm the first Pakistani and the first young woman or the first young person getting this award," she said in Birmingham, England.

Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, said the award will further the rights of girls.

"(The Nobel will) boost the courage of Malala and enhance her capability to work for the cause of girls' education," he told the Associated Press.

"(This) has given pride to the whole of Pakistan," added Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

The other recipient, Satyarthi, has been at the forefront of a global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labor since 1980, when he gave up his career as an electrical engineer, reports Fox News.

During his time as an activist, he has helped rescue tens of thousands of child slaves and developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation. He has also survived several attempts on his life.

"Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here. A lot of work still remains but I will see the end of child labor in my lifetime," Satyarthi told The Associated Press at his office in New Delhi. "If any child is a child slave in any part of the world, it is a blot on humanity. It is a disgrace."

Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said it was important to reward both an Indian Hindu and a Pakistani Muslim, two countries that are long time rivals, for joining "in a common struggle for education and against extremism."

He added that the committee hopes to raise awareness concerning the violation of children's rights around the world though the award.

"It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected," the committee said. "In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation."