Compassion needs to be globalized
By Chitwan Khosla, Features Editor
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded The Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 to India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” It is a matter of great pride as global citizens to see that their efforts and sacrifices have been recognized at such a prestigious international platform, but let us reflect upon the virtual and motivational influence of this global award on the plight of children, their rights, and the education of young girls around the world.
Yousafzai came to the limelight between January and March 2009 when she started writing a daily blog for BBC Urdu under the pseudonym “Gul Makai” when she was just 11. She wrote about the life people of her hometown who were forced to live under the control of the Taliban—a radical militant group. She constantly wrote about rights to education that she and other girls like her were deprived of because the Taliban banned education for girls in Swat—where she lived—that year.
In 2012, the Taliban attempt to assassinate Malala. She miraculously survived the attack and thereafter has emerged as a symbol of defiance in her peaceful fight against the militant rule that banned education for girls in Pakistan. Since then, she has been be the recipient of multiple national and international awards—highlighted by the Nobel Peace Prize this year which has focussed the world’s attention towards educational rights for children and girls.
Similarly, Kailash Satyarthi, who founded a non-governmental organization—Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement)—and has fought to protect over 80,000 children from forced labour and trafficking since 1980, dedicated his award to the cause of children rights because it was in recognition of the plight of more than 26-million children trapped in labour and trafficking across the globe. Accepting the award he said, “Something which was born in India has gone globally and now we have the global movement against child labour. After receiving this award I feel that people will give more attention to the cause of children in theworld.”
The same feelings and hopes were expressed by Malala, who carries on with her campaign.
But has there been even a slight difference ever since these global personalities started with their respective causes? Are more children going to schools in countries like India, Pakistan, and Thailand etc.? Have even a few hundred thousand children working under pitiable conditions been saved? And are school-going girls free from the fear of Taliban in Swat Valley or other stricken areas? Answers may include different statistics but the whole picture definitely shows no significant change in the circumstances of these children.
The ground reality shows a dismal picture of children’s education in many parts of the world. Pakistan is still spending approximately only two per cent of its budget on children’s education, leaving millions illiterate and dependent on meagre jobs to make both ends meet.
Living in a country like Canada we might never think about such conditions for children because they don’t exist in our social limits. But we can’t ignore that there is a high rate of unemployment and many young children are dropping out of schools in North America. Providing equality and access to education to children across the globe will have a remarkably positive influence in the global economy. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s reports have presented that if all the children in underdeveloped countries are educated, it will lower the global poverty by 12 per cent and per capita income will increase by 23 per cent in 40 years.
Poverty, social stigma, and the vicious cycle of officials, politicians, moneylenders, militants, and middlemen have come in direct confrontation with Satyarthi and Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The more support these personalities receive internationally, the more resentment they are likely to meet, especially in their home countries.
No single person who wins the Nobel Prize can change or fix everything. Eradicating poverty, illiteracy, and child labour, while improving the plight of children is a global cause and needs global intervention. The stories of people winning this award will definitely bring these issues to political and social agenda but a humanitarian approach is much needed. Two thousand four hundred schools have been demolished in Syria during the civil war, over 250 schools have been closed down in Democratic Republic of Congo due to attacks by rebels in 2013, schools have been bombed by the Taliban in Pakistan, leaving more than a million children with no access to education and no choice but to work to support their families. Looking at such data, a very strong message comes through: “Not Nobel, but the compassion needs to be globalized.”