Lately, the news has been buzzing about the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony and the winners, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi. Both winners fought, defended and publicly spoke out for children’s rights.
In early 2009, when Yousafzai was 11-12 years old, she wrote a blog post explaining her life living under radical and extremist occupation. In late 2009, a gunman from an extremist group boarded her school bus and shot her in the head. After undergoing extensive medical treatment, she recovered. Soon she began to fight for rights of children, women and education. Previously, Yousafzai has won other awards such as the National Youth Peace Prize, the Sakharov Prize and the Simone de Beauvoir Prize, to name a few. Her book about her life experiences, “I Am Malala,” was released last October.
Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Prize winner. Her acceptance speech during the ceremony was very simple. Although it was brief and concise, during the introduction, she brought up an important yet often forgotten topic. She talked about the importance of connection between people of various religions and cultures. The sharing of the award reinforces the idea of joining different cultures and fighting for a common struggle for education and against extremism.
Although Yousafzai’s story is amazing and inspiring, her positive work has an underlying message. Max Fisher, from the Washington Post, stated: “Western fawning over Malala has become less about her efforts to improve conditions for girls in Pakistan, or certainly about the struggles of millions of girls in Pakistan, and more about our own desire to make ourselves feel warm and fuzzy with a celebrity and an easy message. It’s a way of letting ourselves off the hook, convincing ourselves that it’s [a] simple matter of good guys vs. bad guys, that we’re on the right side and that everything is okay.”
Therefore, less of the focus is on what Yousafzai works to achieve.
U.S. military forces have done some bad things to other countries, yet only a victim of the Taliban is brought to the public eye. The countless people who have had their lives destroyed by American wars have been forgotten.
On the contrary, her positive work is favorable to the Muslim community because she is showing people that not everyone in a particular race or religion acts the same way, which helps to clear up stereotypes. Unfortunately, though, Yousafzai’s Islamic faith isn’t highlighted by the media.
Yousafzai understands that coexisting is the key to achieving things and brings public attention to the rights of every culture. I think it was really interesting to see the combination of gender, cultural and religious diversity during this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi no doubt deserved the award for their hard work and activism for children’s rights.