UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova is in Oslo, Norway on 10 December 2014 to attend the ceremony in City Hall at which the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize will be presented to two ardent defenders of the right to education, Malala Yousafzay from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, from India.
The co-recipients are sharing the Prize for their “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
“The Award of the Peace Prize to these two ardent defenders of education sends out a resounding message to the world on the importance of education for building peaceful and sustainable societies,” said the Director-General in a statement when the prize- winners were announced. “I see this as the Nobel Peace Prize for education and a Prize for girls’ education – all girls and boys must be in school, they should not be married off, not working, not traded commodities,” she continued.
At 17, Malala Yousafzay, the youngest laureate to receive the Prize, survived an assassination attempt for defending girls’ education in her native Pakistan. While pursuing her studies in the United Kingdom, she continues to inspire a global movement to fulfill the right to education, and has travelled to Oslo with fellow teenage activists from Nigeria, Syria and her own country to receive her prize.
Kailash Satyarthi, 60, has been at the forefront of the global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labour. Through his Foundation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, he has rescued close to 84,000 children from bonded labour. In a conversation last month with the Director-General in New Delhi, he reflected that “change is created every day, by talking about rights, not charity for children.” He led a six-long month march across India to demand for the right to education to be inscribed in the Constitution, which was realized in 2009. He stressed the importance of bringing religious institutions and faith leaders on board because “if they are convinced and take up the cause of education for girls, they can convince others, and it is all the more powerful.”
UNESCO has close ties with both laureates. As the founder and longtime president of the Global Campaign for Education, Kailash Satyarthi has been a leading voice in advancing Education for All worldwide. In solidarity with Malala Yousafzay, UNESCO and the Government of Pakistan launched the Malala Fund for Girls’ Education in 2013, working through teacher training, community advocacy and gender-sensitive education policies to overcome disparities and discrimination.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a Committee appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. According to Alfred Nobel's will, the Peace Prize is to go to whoever "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses". The Prize is always presented on 10 December, the date on which Alfred Nobel died, which now fittingly coincides with International Human Rights Day.
During her visit to Oslo to attend the Awards ceremony and Banquet, the Director-General will meet with Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Borge Brende, as well as members of the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO.
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced in September, at an event organized by the UN Global Education First Initiative during the UN General Assembly, that Norway will double financial support for good quality education over the next three years. A recently published White Paper on Education affirms that Norway will be a driving force in making education a high priority in international development cooperation, and place strong focus on reaching those in greatest need, especially girls.