The International Children's Peace Prize Awarded to children who stand up for the improvement of children's rights
The International Children’s Peace Prize is an initiative of the Dutch KidsRights Foundation and was launched by Mikhail Gorbachev, Chairman of the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, during the 2005 Summit at the Capitol in Rome. Since then, the prize has been awarded every year by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
The prize is presented annually to an exceptional child, whose courageous or otherwise remarkable actions have made a difference in countering problems, which affect children around the world. The motivation behind the prize is to provide a platform to children to express their ideas and personal involvement in children’s rights. KidsRights feels that children should be recognized, awarded and motivated in their fierce efforts to improve their own situation and that of the children in their environment and even the world.
An important message on children's rights
Not only is the prize a sign of recognition for the young winners. Having won the award also offers the winners a platform to promote their ideals and further their work. With the newfound attention, these young heroes’ messages have more impact, and reach a larger audience. The intention of KidsRights is to create international attention for the problems that the winners are fighting. This attention will generate a higher level of cooperation and structural improvement in addressing these respective subjects. For example: Om Prakash was invited by the president of India and has discussed the subject of child labor with UK former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Both Thandiwe and Mayra have, upon invitation, attended the UN conference in New York and spoken about violence against young girls. Thandiwe focused on girls in education and Mayra on black girls in favelas. Furthermore, Baruani, Mayra and Thandiwe spoke during the KidsRights Millennium Development Goals Conference in July 2010 in Johannesburg. They addressed the audience about the continuing appalling conditions facing children worldwide. Each winner made the need to take action clear from their own position.
Supporting the winners in their battle and personal development
Attached to the International Children’s Peace Prize is the prize money of €100,000. The prize money is awarded by KidsRights to a direct aid project (or multiple projects) in the spirit of the young winner’s efforts. The money will never be given to the winner directly; not as personal money nor in order for the winner to decide where the money should go. Naturally, the winner is welcome to share his or her wishes and ideas.
The winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize is awarded a statuette - ‘the Nkosi’ - and is supported in his/her cause through the prize money of €100,000 and the platform of attention that the Prize generates. In addition, the winner receives financial support for his/her studies. KidsRights sees education as a steppingstone to further development and therefore encourages and supports full and unlimited education of the winner.
Winners of the International Children's Peace Prize:
2011: Chaeli Mycroft from South Africa
2010: Francia Simon from the Dominican Republic
2009: Baruani Ndume from Tanzania, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo
2008: Mayra Avellar Neves from Brazil
2007: Thandiwe Chama from Zambia
2006: Om Prakash Gurjar from India
2005: Nkosi Johnson from South Africa
The Expert Committee
Each year the International Children’s Peace Prize winner is selected from nominations from all over the world. An Expert Committee assesses the candidates, comprises a selected list of nominees and then selects the winner. Every year KidsRights tries to reach a wider range of organizations and therewith children to be nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. KidsRights is of the opinion that the more children will be nominated and thus recognized in their work, the bigger the platform becomes for children to reach their full potential in changing the world.
The winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize is selected from all nominated children by the following Expert Committee:
• Nevena Vuckovic Sahovic, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
• Prof. Jaap Doek, former Chairman of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
• Frans Röselaers, former Director of the ILO’s (International Labour Organisation) International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).
• Jeroo Billimoria, Founder and Chair of Child Helpline International and Founder and Director of Aflatoun, Child Savings International.
• Marc Dullaert, Founder and Chairman of the KidsRights Foundation and spiritual father of the Children’s Peace Prize.
The winners of the International Children’s Peace Prize are children who perform extraordinary actions to improve the status of children’s rights. Receiving the prize is not only a sign of recognition for what they have achieved to improve the position of children in their communities. It also gives them the opportunity to present their message to more people worldwide and to help more children in the process. The International Children’s Peace Prize functions as a platform to provide these winners with the opportunity to spread their message worldwide.
2005 Nkosi Johnson
The first Children’s Peace Prize in 2005 was dedicated posthumously to Nkosi Johnson for his work and dedication to offer a more dignified existence to South African children and their mothers with hiv and aids. The prize was presented by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev to Nkosi’s foster mother Gail Johnson and his little foster brother Thabo.
During his lifetime Nkosi rose awareness for children with hiv and aids. In his famous speech during the 13th International Aids conference in Durban in 2001 he asked the world to accept and love children and adults with hiv/aids just like any other human being, because as he said: “We can walk, we can talk, we have needs just like everyone else - don't be afraid of us - we are all the same!”. Nkosi wanted to open several Nkosi’s Havens together with his foster “mommy” Gail Johnson within the year. The thought behind Nkosi’s haven is that mothers with hiv/aids and their children should not be separated from each other.
In 2006 the honor went to Om Prakash Gurjar from India. He received the prize from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate F.W. de Klerk, former president of South Africa. He was awarded the Prize for his unceasing work to combat child labor and liberate child slaves in India. Om was liberated from slavery after having worked from his 5th until his 8th year under grueling circumstances. After his liberation Om started advocating and fighting for children’s rights to freedom and education.
In 2007, KidsRights had the honor of giving the International Children’s Peace Prize to Thandiwe Chama from Zambia. She received the Children’s Peace Prize from Nobel Prize Laureate Betty Williams and Sir Bob Geldof, for her devotion to the rights of children in her country, especially their right to education.
Thandiwe’s school was closed when she was only 8 years old because of a lack of teachers. But Thandiwe did not accept this and demanded education for her and her 60 schoolmates. The CECUP school took them in. After having seen the extent to which she could influence her environment Thandiwe went to a government official to plead for a new building, so that the children did not have to study outside in the hot sun anymore. Ever since, Thandiwe has been fighting for the right to education for all children, including the poor and the ill. Thandiwe has seen the devastating effects of hiv/aids in her direct environment. Children dying of the disease, children not going to school. and lacking the right nutrition. Taking action on behalf of children with hiv/aids and calling upon others to do their share is one of her great drives in daily life. She gets the community involved to provide fruits to sick children in the nearby hospital. She advises children and parents on testing for hiv, and has even taken children herself to do the test.
In 2008 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu presented Mayra Avellar Neves the Children’s Peace Prize for her ongoing fight against the violence in the favela’s, slums, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and her own favela, Vila Cruzeiro, in particular. When Mayra was only 11 years old her favela was closed off by so many checkpoints that schools and clinics had to be closed because doctors and teachers could not reach them. She however refused to accept this and found another school outside the favela and demanded her right to education. When Mayra was 15 years old, she mobilized hundreds of youths to participate in a community march against violence. Their direct demand was that the police should stop patrolling around schools during the times that children walk to and from school. This took great courage, as the march passed by many of these armed police patrols. As a result of this action, the police agreed to the demands, and children started coming back to school again – a great achievement with far-reaching implications for life in the favela.
Meanwhile, Mayra still participates in the theatre group Favela Força (“favela power”), which shows the powerful and positive culture of the favela population.
In 2009 Baruani received the International Children’s Peace Prize from Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai. Baruani has lived in the refugee camp in Tanzania for over nine years. He tries to convert this life experience into positive action, by actively helping fellow refugee children. His radio show is one of the key ways in which he tries to help his peers. The radio show, called ‘Sisi kwa Sisi’ (Children for Children), airs on Radio Kwizera in Tanzania, Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. In his radio show, Baruani discusses the problems and challenges refugee children face in the camp. For many children it is already a big help to talk to someone and to be able to share the problems they experience. Baruani also leads a children’s parliament in the camp which is an alternative child voicing out tool. Furthermore, through his radio show Baruani contributes to reuniting children with their parents. The children use the radio show to call upon people familiar with them or their family.
16-year-old Francia Simon from the Dominican Republic won the International Children’s Peace Prize. The prize was presented by Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum. Francia, who lives in the Dominican Republic, campaigns for the right of children to registration, name and nationality – both for children born in the Dominican Republic as for refugee children from Haiti. It is only after official registration that children can gain access to essential rights such as health care and education. Francia found herself faced with possible exclusion from education. In response, she carried out extensive research and showed great perseverance in pursuing her own registration. She succeeded and gained lasting access to secondary education. Since then, Francia has been using the knowledge and strength she acquired during the complicated registration process to help other children without birth certificates to obtain state recognition. She has already helped over 130 children to receive an official name and nationality. By doing this, Francia increases the children’s own self-esteem and gives them the chance to lead a more secure and fulfilling life.
The International Children's Peace Prize 2011 was presented to Michaela Mycroft (17), also called Chaeli, by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire. Chaeli received the prize for her commitment to the rights of children with disabilities in South Africa through her project: the Chaeli Campaign. Chaeli was born with Cerebral Palsy, through which the function of her arms and legs is limited. But where others see limitations, she sees possibilities; with her positive attitude, she is an inspiration to many. At the age of 9, Chaeli and her friends and sister started a project to raise money for an motorized wheelchair for Chaeli. In just seven weeks they raised more than enough money, so Chaeli decided to help more disabled children. This project has become the Chaeli Campaign, a professional organization that annually helps more than 3000 children with disabilities in South Africa with equipment, physical therapy and which defends the rights and acceptance of disabled children. Chaeli inspires other children to start projects and for that she has developed an ambassadors program.
The International Children’s Peace Prize 2013 was presented today to 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai. The champion of the right to education for girls came to the Netherlands especially for this occasion, at the invitation of the Dutch children’s rights organisation KidsRights. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (2011) Tawakkol Karman had the honor of presenting the prestigious prize on behalf of KidsRights to the young winner, in the presence of over 400 guests and the world press.
On September 6 2013, the International Children’s Peace Prize was awarded to Malala Yousafzai. The prize was handed to her by Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkol Karman. Malala won the prize, at the age of 16, because she stands up for every child’s right to an education and especially girls. When Malala was 11 years old, she wrote under a pseudonym, about her passion for learning and the oppression of the Taliban. Hundreds of girls’ schools had already been torched or bombed, and on 15 January 2009, the Taliban declared that girls were no longer allowed to go to school at all. Malala told the world what it felt like to be trapped at home, longing to go to school, but with no school to go to.
By May 2009, life in Swat was just too dangerous, and Malala’s family, like many others, was forced to flee. When government forces retook control of the area three months later, they came back to a city destroyed by violence. The first thing Malala did was to check if her books were still in her room. They were. Those schools which hadn’t been destroyed were now able to reopen, but the danger of militant attacks had not gone away.
Undeterred, Malala picked up her campaign where she had left off. She held a press conference urging the government to restore education for children in the Swat Valley. And in 2010, she became chair of The District Child Assembly of Swat; a child-only forum to protect children’s rights, based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In 2011, Malala was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. When she didn’t win, the Pakistani government decided to give her the first ever National Youth Peace Prize.
On 9 October 2012, Malala was sitting in a school bus waiting to go home when it was boarded by Taliban gunmen. They singled out the 15-year old girl, and shot her in the head and neck. The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility, declaring Malala’s campaign to be an “obscenity”.
Malala survived. She was rushed to the UK for treatment, where, with her family by her side, she made a steady recovery. The world was shocked at her story, and support flooded in from political leaders, movie stars and school children. Three million people across the world signed a petition by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, calling out for girls to be allowed go to school in Pakistan and elsewhere, and for all children everywhere to be able to go to school by 2015. Globally, there are still 32 million girls who cannot go to primary school.
Malala is back at school, not in Pakistan, but in the UK, where she now lives with her family. But she still fights passionately for children’s rights in Pakistan and beyond, and above all, for girl empowerment through education. Malala wants to be a social activist and a political leader.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzayfor their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Children must go to school and not be financially exploited. In the poor countries of the world, 60% of the present population is under 25 years of age. 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. He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.
Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay 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. 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 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. Many other individuals and institutions in the international community have also contributed. It has been calculated that there are 168 million child labourers around the world today. In 2000 the figure was 78 million higher. The world has come closer to the goal of eliminating child labour.
The struggle against suppression and for the rights of children and adolescents contributes to the realization of the “fraternity between nations” that Alfred Nobel mentions in his will as one of the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize.