Religion & Liberty Online

Explainer: Who are the Recent Nobel Peace Prize Winners?

Nobel-Peace-Prize-winners-012Who are the people who won the Nobel Peace Prize?

Malala Yousafzai, a 17-year-old Muslim girl from Pakistan, and Kailash Satyarthi, a 60-year-old Hindu man from India, jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize for their “struggle against the suppression of children and young people.”

What exactly is the Nobel Peace Prize?

The Nobel Peace Prize is an international prize awarded annually since 1901 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee according to guidelines laid down in Alfred Nobel’s will (“. . . to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”). The prize includes a medal, a personal diploma, and a large sum of prize money (currently, about $1.1 million).

What did Malala Yousafzai do to deserve the award?

Yousafzai — frequently referred to by her first name, Malala — rose to prominence in 2009 as the author of an anonymous blog that described life in her region of Pakistan at a time when area residents were terrorized by gunmen who shut schools where girls were being educated.

She later began to openly speak about peace and the education of girls, gaining national attention and drawing the ire of the Taliban. In the summer of 2012, they plotted to kill her, a plan they put it into action that October. A Taliban gunman leapt onto a crowded bus shouted, “Who is Malala?”, and then shot the 15-year-old schoolgirl in the head.

After the shooting, Malala was flown to Britain for treatment where surgeons inserted a titanium plate in her head. Upon her recovery she returned to speaking out for the right to education for girls. “They cannot stop me. I will get my education, if it is in home, school or any place,” said Malala. “This is request to the all world that save our school, save our world, save our Pakistan, save our Swat.”

Malala is the second Pakistani and the youngest person to win the Nobel.

Last year she was interviewed by Jon Stewart to talk about her recent book.

What did Kailash Satyarthi do to deserve the award?

In 1980 Satyarthi founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the first organization in India dedicated to promoting a “child friendly society where all children are free from exclusion and exploitation and receive free education of good quality.” The organization is involved in “identifying, liberating, rehabilitating and educating children in servitude through direct intervention, community participation, partnerships and coalitions, promoting ethics in trade, unionizing workers, running campaigns (on issues, such as education, trafficking, forced labour, decent work, building child friendly villages) and mobilizing the masses on a common action.”

Satyarthi is credited with freeing 75,000 children from bondage and forced labor. In 2007 he was the recipient of the U.S. State Department’s Heroes Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery award.

Satyarthi is the first Indian-born person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. (Mother Teresa, who won the peace prize in 1979 for her work among the poor in India, was born in Macedonia.)

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).