Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi have been jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year.
I’m sure you all instantly recognised the first name – Malala has been the global icon for the campaign for education for girls and women. She gained recognition for her advocacy work in 2012, when she was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen who feared her campaigning and calls for education for girls in Pakistan. She has since gone on to give a truly inspirational speech at the United Nations, as well as be listed as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” by TIME magazine. She certainly is admirable in every way and most of us will agree that she wholeheartedly deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.
But when you read the name of the second recipient of the Peace Prize, chances are you had no idea who he is. Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know who he was either, and he’s the first Nobel Peace Prize winner from India (my country)! We can’t be expected to know who everyone is.
What is slightly worrying is that despite the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to two people this year, the Internet still seems to be solely focused on Malala’s achievement, whilst almost completely ignoring the fact that Kailash has done a lot of impressive work himself (evidently so, if he’s been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for it).
Media organisations have splashed headlines of “Malala wins Nobel Peace Prize” all over their front pages and website headers, while on social media, people have been rejoicing over the fact that their hero, Malala Yousafzai, has finally been awarded for her efforts to make education a reality for all children around the world.
So incredibly happy for Malala, she is such an inspiration for many including myself
— Gelsey Garcia (@gelseygarcia) October 10, 2014
Go Malala!!! You deserve the Nobel and more!!
— Leonel Ivan Brito (@leonelbrito2003) October 10, 2014
Malala Yousafzai is such a badass, I’m so excited that she won the Nobel Peace Prize.
— Catie George (@catttgeorge) October 10, 2014
Even prominent organisations that work in the education sector seemed to have missed the fact that Malala wasn’t the only winner of the prize.
Congratulations, Malala. pic.twitter.com/0oqhBVjEyh
— edutopia (@edutopia) October 10, 2014
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) October 10, 2014
Similarly, some of the world’s most prominent activists for education have also failed to recognise Kailash’s contribution to the same struggle for the protection and empowerment of young people worldwide. Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise – an organisation that builds schools in undeveloped communities all over the world – as well as a personal hero of mine, went so far as to say it was a great day for education and children’s rights, but finished his tweet by mentioning only Malala.
— Adam Braun (@AdamBraun) October 10, 2014
What’s ironic about that is that Kailash Satyarthi is one of the leading activists for children’s rights in the world. Having been working towards the protection of children for far longer than Malala has (Kailash is now 60 years old), it seems odd to me that pioneers of children’s rights are choosing to dismiss his work so easily.
Kailash Satyarthi is the Founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (translated: “Save the Childhood Movement”), an organisation that campaigns for the protection of children and ensures that they have “quality education”. His organisation has rescued over 82,000 victims of human trafficking, slavery and child labour, and has re-integrated these victims back into society.
Although Kailash is known for his timid personality and his desire to keep a low profile, some of the work he has done is considerably notable – even though you might not have heard about it. Kailash has previously worked with Guardian Films on a documentary about modern-day slavery in Assam, India, which showed him as the hero of a raid to rescue a trafficked girl. His nobility and courage is highlighted in the film as he speaks of his work:
“Different parts of my body have been broken while I was trying to rescue children. I lost two of my colleagues – one was shot dead and one was beaten to death. Most of my junior colleagues have been beaten up many, many times. So it is not an easy game.”
“It is a challenge definitely and I know that it is a long battle to fight, but slavery is unacceptable, it is a crime against humanity.”
In the 1990s, Kailash led the Global March Against Child Labour to raise awareness about the millions of children worldwide who are abused through modern slavery. He is also the Founder of RugMark, a unique organisation that tags all carpets made in factories that are certified as being free of child labour.
There is no doubt that Malala’s story is an inspiring one and her tale will be told for generations to come. But acknowledging the work of other leaders in the movement for social equality and justice won’t diminish what Malala has done, nor will it overshadow her bravery and strength. Instead, by expanding our views to encompass the work of other campaigners, we’re helping to further Malala’s cause to empower the young people of our world.
Malala deserves a lot of praise – but so do a few others, and it won’t hurt for the Internet to give credit where credit is due.
This article was originally published on the Huffington Post UK.