Two People Were Awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, but the Internet Is Only Buzzing Over One of Them

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.

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.

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.

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


Journalism 101 for the Times of India: Boobs Aren’t News

It’s a sad day when I – a journalism student – am able to say with absolute confidence that I know more about what makes “news” than India’s leading national paper. I don’t mean to imply that I’m a journalism guru, but recent events have proved it’s not very difficult for anyone to claim they have a better sense of the news agenda than the Times Of India.

The storm against TOI’s lack of editorial sense began with a tweet (for isn’t that where most storms begin?). A video angled at a Bollywood actress’ breasts was accompanied with the words: “OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show!”

Actress Deepika Padukone was quick to react to the tweet:

Unfortunately, their storm didn’t end with Deepika’s less-than-impressed reaction and things only went downhill from there. There have been a lot of articles circulating the Internet since the incident, with many people criticising and condemning TOI – and rightly so. In fact, the article about Deepika was not TOI’s last blunder. A few days later the publication wrote a piece titled “Hot babes with ugly legs”, in which their journalist took the time out to write a senseless piece about celebrities who they think don’t have nice legs.

I realised at this point that perhaps TOI needs a little help. So I thought I would use the valuable lessons I have learnt throughout my journalism course to impart – or drill – some editorial sense into the heads of India’s “leading” journalists.

Lesson One: Women having boobs isn’t news
We spend a lot of time at university learning about what makes a news story. We’re taught to take into account a number of different factors, but then those factors tend to change based on who your audience is. It’s definitely a tricky one and not everyone is able to grasp the skill immediately, so maybe it’s unfair to blame TOI for getting it wrong from time to time.

On the other hand, it’s important to note that that not one of my fellow classmates ever pitched “woman has breasts” as a news story to our professor. Something to think about, TOI.

Syrians dying in thousands is news. The spread of Ebola is news. Coverage of the UN General Assembly is news. A woman who has cleavage? Not news.

Lesson Two: When trying to defend your publication’s sexist actions, don’t say more sexist things
A few days later, TOI’s Senior Editor Priya Gupta posted a response to the actress’ comments. Usually when a publication is accused of insulting someone, an apology, and sometimes a retraction, will suffice. TOI decided to go a slightly different way. They did delete their tweet, but their printed “apology” turned out to be far more insulting than the original tweet.

The newspaper printed an article titled “Dear Deepika, our point of view…” that accused the actress of “hypocrisy” because she had previously “flaunted” her body on red carpets and at photo shoots. Apparently all of this “flaunting” makes Deepika’s body fair game to the media.

The response was also complete with photos of the actress on the red carpet, with arrows pointing to her breasts – just in case we had once again forgotten TOI’s breaking news about women having breasts.

Lesson Three: Your actions cannot be justified by the nature of online journalism
After the “journalist” is done accusing an actress for having a female body, the publication then tries their best to tug on the strings of some journalism school textbook knowledge by stating:

“Yes, the headline could have been better. But the world of online is very different from that of newspapers. It is chaotic and cluttered- and sensational headlines are far from uncommon.”

True, the world of online is very different from newspapers – at least TOI got that right. But that’s where their sense seems to end once. Not only have TOI proven that they know very well how to objectify women and treat our bodies like objects to be drooled over, but they have also gone the extra mile to prove that they do not know the first thing about the journalism industry.

While all journalists these days are trained to learn the different between print and online media, it seems TOI journalists paid attention during the first class, and were then off marvelling in amazement at the fact that women have women body parts. If they had chosen to pay attention for just a little longer, they might have caught onto the fact that just because the world of digital media is different and more fast paced, that does not mean journalists should discard their responsibility to be moral and ethical journalists above all.

Yes, it is true that the rise of the Internet requires journalists to create headlines that are eye-catching and attention-grabbing. But that can, and is, being done without bowing into a form of journalism that is immoral and insensitive. TOI’s absurd comment has dismissed the brilliant work of many journalists around the world, who are able to attract an online audience and are doing so without objectifying women’s bodies. It’s insulting to journalists everywhere to have this publication say that digital media calls for sensationalism. It does not. And the rest of the industry does not stand by you in support of your claim.

There’s a lot that needs to be said to the journalists in TOI’s newsroom – and there’s certainly a lot for them to learn. One young journalist from a youth publication in India wrote a brilliant piece summing up everything that is wrong with TOI’s coverage. Opening with the words “Today is a sad day in Indian journalism,” Youth Ki Awaaz are a prime example of a publication that knows how to report on events, and knows how to do it well and with their integrity intact. Perhaps this is a wake up call to the people of India – it’s time for the “leading” publications to take a back seat, and let the next generation of leaders take the spotlight.

Until then, Times of India, you’ve just been given your first lesson in journalism. Maybe one day you’ll be qualified enough to regain our country’s respect for you as journalists.

This article was originally published on Huffington Post UK.


Why We Should Be Campaigning for Media Freedom to be Included as an MDG

Decision makers around the world are scrambling to reach their targets as the 2015 deadline looms for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Alongside that scramble, discussions have also begun as to what the world’s new aims should be – what are the next set of goals the world should aspire to reach?

That seems like quite a big question to answer – we’re talking about what the aims and objectives of the world should be. Doesn’t this seem like something a lot more of us should have a say in? The United Nations has been adamant in reminding us that “it’s your world”, but when it comes to making the decisions, “our world” seems to feel like a distant and naive concept. While the current MDGs cover some essential issues that should definitely be on the global agenda, there is one area that has been overlooked by decision makers and it’s an area that can only be brought to light and put on the agenda by the citizens of the world.

With the turn of the 21st century and the technology boom that came with it, freedom of the media and the people’s right to access to transparent information have become a vital area that needs addressing. It seems that we’re constantly hearing stories of journalists being tortured, kidnapped, or worse, simply for reporting on facts. In many countries tales of governments only allowing journalists to publish their own propaganda is not only frightening, but also deeply concerning for those of us who understand how vital access to information is in shaping our decisions – and in turn, shaping our world.

Eradicating poverty and combating HIV/AIDS are imperative to development and their place amongst the MDGs mustn’t be diminished. However, if we take a second to understand the value of media freedom in today’s world, we very quickly realise that all the other MDGs are dependent on the people’s right to information. How could we possibly hold world leaders to account for not eradicating poverty if it weren’t for the journalists who informed us about the exact measures that are being taken by world leaders on the issue? How can we understand the complexities and technicalities of combating HIV/AIDS if the press doesn’t tell us? More needs to be done to ensure that journalists around the world have the freedom and ability to bring us this information.

In the UK we’re privileged to have a relatively free press. Our newspapers are often filled with stories about how our politicians aren’t doing what we expect of them and how those higher up the ladder of power are cheating us. That media coverage is what often brings people together to demand better of those in charge, making it difficult for our leaders to carry on doing anything that might upset the public. Unfortunately, many other countries around the world cannot brag the same rights. It seems basic enough – allow the press to tell us what they need to tell us. Yet many governments are responsible for intercepting information and telling journalists what they can and cannot inform the public of. In poorer countries, where not everyone has access to the Internet, journalists are often the sole source of information for members of society. Do they not have the right to transparent information? Should they not be given the same privileges as us, where they can read about what world leaders are doing and hold them to account when they aren’t happy?

The MYWorld survey conducted by the United Nations gave the people of the world a chance to voice their opinions about what they think are the most important issues for consideration in the post-2015 framework. “Honest and accountable governments” was in the top four issues, proving more important than even food security and access to water. If we are to give the people of the world honest and accountable governments, we need to also give them a press that can report on government activities without fearing for their lives during the process.

By allowing journalists to tell the whole story and paint a complete picture, rather than telling people the story as the government wishes them to see it, we’re also encouraging people to make decisions for themselves. It’s time for the global community to come together to put media freedom on the international agenda. No longer should people remain mere puppets of an administration, but instead, should draw their own conclusions and take one more step towards a freer, fairer and more sustainable world.

And after all, isn’t that what the Millennium Development Goals were designed to achieve?

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post UK.


WATCH: A ‘Living Report’ On Art And Sexual Violence In Egypt

Ever since the end of the revolution in Egypt, the country has been cast under the spotlight for their increasing levels of sexual violence against women. Tahrir Square has long since lost it’s association with liberation, freedom and a call for change. Instead, the echoes of the revolution have left the square, only to be replaced by scenes of gang rapes and sexual harassment.

A report published by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women showed that over 99% of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. From the streets to public transport and even in private homes, it seems that the women of Egypt have a new cause for a second revolution. And now women and men alike are beginning to fight back against this wave of sexual violence.

Joining them in their fight, Index on Censorship has put together an interactive documentary entitled ‘Shout Art Loud’, which explores how Egyptians are using theatre, dance, music and graffiti to tackle the issue of sexual harassment and violence against women in their country. Through these innovative measures, Egyptians are remaining true to the revolution and campaigning for change – and how they’re doing it is truly brilliant.

“This innovative documentary is a reminder of the vital role artistic expression plays in tackling taboo subjects like sexual violence — in Egypt and beyond. We want to bring this issue to a wider audience to show just how important artists and writers can be in bringing about change.” – Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship.



This article was originally published on the International Political Forum.

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WATCH: Jon Snow Calls On The World To “Make A Difference” In Gaza

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine sees an increasing death toll everyday. All over the world, pro-Palestinian groups have been taking to the streets to protest against Israel’s inhumane mass murdering of Palestinian civilians, particularly the hundreds of Palestinian children who have been killed by Israeli bombing. Even the UN has spoken out, with one report concluding that the Israeli operation in Gaza has killed one child every hour.

Media outlets like the BBC have come under fire for biased reporting of the conflict. However, Channel 4′s Jon Snow has proved to be a breath of fresh air upon his return from the conflict zone. Through an honest and accurate 3 minute broadcast, Jon Snow captures the hearts and minds of people all over the world as he recalls what he saw while he was in Gaza and calls on humanity to put an end to the suffering.

Jon Snow’s heart-wrenching report of what the Palestinian people are going through will make you realise that journalism – when done correctly – truly does have the power to drive people to make a difference.

This article was originally published on the International Political Forum