WASHINGTON DC —
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded jointly to Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and Indian children right's campaigner Kailash Satyarthi.
In announcing the winners Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said the prize was awarded for "their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to an education."
Malala's hometown of Mingora in Pakistan's Swat Valley was infiltrated by militants from Afghanistan more than six years ago and for a time the community was living under the influence of the Pakistani Taliban. The Taliban set up courts, executed residents and closed girls' schools, including the one that Malala attended.
She rose to fame when she wrote a blog under a pen name about living under Taliban rule. She spoke out against the militants, demanding education for girls, at a time when the government appeared to be appeasing the hard-line Islamists.
On October 9, 2012, Taliban gunmen fired on Malala's school bus, shooting her in the head and neck at close range and wounding two of her classmates.
She was treated in Pakistan before the United Arab Emirates provided an air ambulance to fly her to Britain, where doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate.
A UN speech
Malala recovered enough to celebrate her 16th birthday in July 2013 with a passionate speech at the United Nations in New York, in which she appealed for compulsory free schooling for all children.
Wearing a pink headscarf, Malala told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and nearly 1,000 students attending an international Youth Assembly at U.N. headquarters that education was the only way to improve lives.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens," she said. "They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”
Malala has gone on to make several public appearances and has received a number of honors.
In September 2013, she was awarded the 'Clinton Global Citizens Awards' at a ceremony in New York.
Pakistan has 5 million children out of school, a numbersurpassed only by Nigeria, which has more than 10 million children out of school, according to the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO.
Kailash Satyarthi has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the exploitation of children for financial gain. He also has helped develop important international conventions on children’s rights.