OSLO: Malala Yousafzai and Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi received their Nobel Peace Prizes on Wednesday after two days of celebration honouring their work for children’s rights. Malala became by far the youngest laureate, widely praised for her global campaigning since she was shot in the head on her school bus in 2012. “I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not,” said Malala, 17, better known by her first name, which is also the title of her book and the name of her foundation. “It is the story of many girls,” she said in Oslo’s ornate city hall on the anniversary of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel’s death. Although the focus was undoubtedly on Oslo on Wednesday, Nobel Prize winners in literature, chemistry, physics, medicine and economics were gathering in Stockholm, due to receive their prizes from the King of Sweden later in the day.
Satyarthi, who is credited with saving around 80,000 children from slave labour, sometimes in violent confrontations, kept a modest profile in Oslo and even conceded to being overshadowed by Malala surrounded by admirers. “I’ve lost two of my colleagues,” Satyarthi said about his work.
“Carrying the dead body of a colleague who is fighting for the protection of children is something I’ll never forget, even as I sit here to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Arriving in Norway with friends and young activists from Pakistan, Syria and Nigeria, Malala met thousands of children, walked the streets to greet supporters and will open an exhibit where her blood-stained dress, worn when her school bus was attacked, was put on display. “She’s very brave and tough, fighting even after the Taliban shot her in the head,” said Andrea, 12, who was among thousands of children hoping to greet Malala in downtown Oslo.
The award could also help the Norwegian Nobel Committee repair its reputation, damaged by controversial awards in recent years to the European Union and US President Barack Obama.
“I am pretty certain that I am also the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize who still fights with her younger brothers,” Malala said. “I want there to be peace everywhere, but my brothers and I are still working on that.” Speaking on the sidelines of the event, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Malala is a daughter of Pakistan that every progressive Pakistani is proud of. “Much before she grabbed world attention, as prime minister of Pakistan, I was the first person to give Malala a Peace Prize in 2011. She has been undeterred and resolved in her belief that no child must or can be denied the right to education.”
He said a struggle that was confined to the pristine valley s of Swat, got international attention when followers of a militant mindset, felt threatened by a teenager’s voice for her right to education, and put bullets through her head. “I remember that moment brought all of Pakistan together.
Schools, colleges, government building, the streets and villages of Pakistan hosted streams of people in vigil praying for her life. In Pakistan, we were all actually praying for the flame of hope not to die down. Because in my mind, that is what Malala represented to millions of Pakistanis like myself.
“I am a person who knows the suffering at the hands of this mind set. My young son was kidnapped by a terrorist outfit from my home city, Multan, two years from today. My family and I have spent two long years waiting for news of his well-being. I am being made to pay for having a vision for Pakistan that is devoid of terrorist activity and an extremist mindset.”