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Breaking News: Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi Are Awarded Nobel Peace Prize


Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the 2014 peace prize to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India, joining a teenage Pakistani known around the world with an Indian veteran of campaigns on behalf of children.

At age 17, Ms. Yousafzai is the youngest recipient of the $1.1 million prize since it was created in 1901. Mr. Satyarthi is 60.

The awards, announced in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, the committee’s chairman, were in acknowledgment of their work in helping to promote universal schooling and in protecting children worldwide from abuse and exploitation, particularly young laborers in India on whose behalf Mr. Satyarthi has campaigned for decades.

Pointedly, Mr. Jagland said, “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.

“Children must go to school and not be financially exploited,” Mr. Jagland said. “It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.”

“Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” Mr. Jagland said. “He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.”

Despite his works, Mr. Satyarthi is not nearly so widely known as Ms. Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for her campaigning on behalf of girls’ education in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. She was 15 at the time. Since then she has become a global emblem of her struggle, celebrated on television and publishing a memoir.

She “has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations,” Mr. Jagland said. “This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle, she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.”

The prize came after a year in which war has spread into Europe with fighting in eastern Ukraine and across frontiers in the Middle East after the Sunni militant Islamic State pushed from Syria into Iraq in June.

For the previous two years, the prize had been awarded to international bodies: the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2013 and the European Union in 2012.

The winner was chosen from 278 candidates, 47 of them of organizations, the highest overall number of candidates since the prize was first awarded in 1901. The previous record was 259 in 2013, according to the Oslo-based committee, which traditionally makes its final choice at the last minute and seeks unanimity.

In the speculation that invariably precedes the announcement of the award, Ms. Yousafzai had been a favorite for two successive years. This year, some forecasters spoke of Pope Francis, and others said it was likely the committee would withhold the prize, as it last did during the Vietnam War in 1972 because the global horizon seemed so scarred by conflict.

The nomination of Ms. Yousafzai, however, seemed in part to be intended as an inspirational message, offering a counterpoint to conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

Even as the prize was announced in the chanderliered splendor of the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, much global attention was focused on the bloody struggle for survival of the Kurdish town of Kobani on the Turkish-Syrian border against fighters from the Islamic State.

Before Ms. Yousafzai, the youngest peace laureate had been Tawakkul Karman, a Yemeni peace campaigner who was 32 when she awarded the 2011 prize along with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian campaigner for peace and women’s rights.

Despite her international fame, Ms. Yousafzai has been seen as a more contentious and even divisive figure in her homeland. In the Swat Valley, which she left after being wounded in the shooting in October 2012 and evacuated in a military helicopter, there has been smoldering animosity toward her among Pakistanis who feared that the Islamists might one day return to the region.

Ms. Yousafzai, who has said she wants to become her country’s prime minister one day, was treated for her head wounds in Britain after the Taliban attack on a bus in which she was traveling.

Last year, she won several European awards and has published a memoir of her experiences, “I Am Malala.” The title echoed the circumstances of her shooting. When the Taliban gunman boarded her bus, he called out, “Who is Malala?” As she noted in an interview last year, her voice is now heard “in every corner of the world.”

British news reports said Ms. Yousafzai was at school in Birmingham, England, where she has lived since being treated for the gunshot wounds, when the prize was announced and was taken out of her class to be informed of the award.

For his part, Mr. Satyarthi, a former engineer, has long been associated with the struggle to free bonded laborers, some born into their condition and others lured into servitude.