Kailash Satyarthi (Right) and Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize 2014. "It is an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and extremism", said the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Photos: Reuters/V. Sudershan

The two struggled against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.

Kailash Satyarthi, the child rights activist from India, and Malala Yousufzai, the activist for girls’ education in Pakistan, were announced as the joint winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday. “It is an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and extremism,” said the Committee in a press release. The prize was for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Kailash Satyarthi showed “great personal courage” and “maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain”, it said.

Based in New Delhi, Mr. Sathyarthi is credited with having saved thousands of children from bonded labour in factories through his Bachpan Bachao Andolan and other organisations.

On Malala Yousufzai, the Committee said that, “Despite her youth, [she] has already fought for several years for the rights of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.”

Shot by Taliban militants two years ago in Swat, Pakistan, for her campaign against the terrorist groups violence against girls attending schools, she recovered to become a global symbol of the fight against extremism.

Answering a question from The Hindu on whether he saw the prize contributing to peace in the subcontinent, particularly with strain at the border, Nobel Committee chairman and former Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland said that “contribution to resolving conflict anywhere was welcome”.

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At the age of 17, Malala is now the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever. She and Mr. Satyarthi will share the $1.11-million prize to be awarded in Oslo on December 10.

This year there were 278 nominees for the prize, more than any other year till date. The other major contenders for the prize this year were Edward Snowden, who exposed the surveillance activities of U.S. intelligence agencies; Pope Francis, the first non-European Pope in modern times; Denis Mukwege, a Congolese leader who worked with rape victims; and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

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