CHILD LABOR COALITION PRESS RELEASE: The Child Labor Coalition applauds the selection of Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai as recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize

Washington, DC – The Child Labor Coalition (CLC), a group of 34 organizations dedicated to fighting exploitative child labor, is celebrating the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai—two tireless and courageous advocates for the universal education of children and child rights. For the past 25 years, the CLC has worked closely with Satyarthi, who has freed tens of thousands of child slaves, to reduce child labor around the world.

“Last week, a true champion in the fight to end child labor was rightfully recognized by the international community,” said Sally Greenberg, CLC co-chair and executive director of the National Consumers League. “The number of child workers worldwide continues to decrease, and we must thank tireless advocates like Kailash Satyarthi for championing this effort. Satyarthi has committed his life to ensuring that children have access to education and a childhood. Satyarthi’s efforts have helped pull millions of children out of child labor and given these children new opportunity and hope.”

“There are no two people more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), also an organizational co-chair of the CLC. “Their courageous efforts in fighting for universal education and protecting children from exploitation and abuse are making our world a better place for generations to come. The right to an education is too often taken for granted. Malala and Kailash’s work reminds us that much still needs to be accomplished to ensure that all children, regardless of gender, family income, religion or homeland, are able to go to school and have the chance to reach their God-given potential.”

“The Nobel Prize is a fitting tribute to Kailash’s years of selfless dedication and vision,” said Dr. Lorretta Johnson, a CLC’s co-chair and AFT’s secretary-treasurer. “We have made much progress together, but in many ways our work has far to go. We look forward to continuing to stand with Kailash in the fight against hazardous labor, modern-day slavery, and human trafficking as we strive to achieve quality education for the world’s children.”

Satyarthi has worked intensively with several CLC member organizations. “I was so moved when I found out that Kailash had been honored with the Nobel Prize. So many of us were motivated to join this struggle to protect the lives of vulnerable children because of him,” said Nina Smith, executive director of GoodWeave, an innovative program, started by Satyarthi and others that the CLC helped establish in the US. GoodWeave allows consumers to buy child-labor free carpets and has helped remove over 750,000 bonded child laborers from slavery. “He is an incredible movement builder,” added Smith. “He is all about collective power—mobilizing as many people as possible around the need to end child slavery once and for all.”

“We supported the original march against child labor led by Kailash in 1998, and we remain a dedicated supporter of his organization, the Global March Against Child Labor,” noted Judy Gearhart of the International Labor Rights Forum and the chair of the CLC’s International Issues Committee. “Through this work, Kailash has brought together people of all walks of life and backgrounds toward the one goal of ending child labor. We think it’s especially fitting he is honored together with a child rights activist from Pakistan, showing that concerns for human rights span the interests of people divided by global politics and conflicts. We congratulate Kailash and commend his bold vision for mobilizing all actors – governments, civil society and corporations – in the fight to end child labor everywhere.”

“I had the honor of working for Kailash in 2002 in India, where I got to witness firsthand the impact he had had on the lives of hundreds of former bonded child laborers—many of whom he had rescued,” said Wendy Blanpied of Save the Children, a CLC member. “At Bal Ashram, a site for former child laborers Kailash’s organization BBA had set up, they greeted him with such love and adoration. He truly gave them a second chance at a life of freedom.”

“We applaud the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s selection of Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Norma Flores López, director of Children in the Fields Campaign for the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs and chair of the CLC’s Domestic Issues Committee. “In recognizing the important work of Satyarthi and Yousafzai, the Committee reminds us of the suffering of millions of children around the world, including the nearly 500,000 child laborers in the United States, and the promise that lies within them. We must hold our world leaders to a higher standard and call on them to provide equal protections and access to quality education for all children.”

“In a year that has seen so many crises affecting children around the world, the Nobel Committee’s decision is a welcome affirmation of the rights of every child to an education, to live free from violence, exploitation and abuse, and to be heard,” said Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF (represented on the CLC by the US Fund for UNICEF). “It is a reminder of the power of the human voice – often a young voice – to change the world. So in honoring Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Prize, and Kailash Satyarthi, a child rights legend – we salute activists everywhere who are working to improve the lives of children.  The future of these children is the future of the world.”