Magazine Article

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi launches children’s rights campaign in Bangladesh

| Apr. 05, 2017

“100 Million for 100 Million” initiative’s objective is to get young people to pledge to help children who are victims of trafficking, forced labor and prostitution.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi was in Bangladesh this past week launching his global “100 Million for 100 Million” children’s rights campaign. The initiative’s name is derived from a simple but powerful objective: for 100 million young people to pledge to help the 100 million children worldwide who are suffering from the worst forms of exploitation and abuse, including child trafficking, forced labor and prostitution.

Satyarthi has spent the last 37 years as an unrelenting and formidable children’s right and education advocate in India. He and colleagues from his organization have personally rescued more 85,000 children across the country suffering in the most abject and inhumane conditions conceivable. On more than occasion, they were nearly killed by traffickers and factory bosses employing the children. His pioneering work also resulted in the enactment of India’s first child protection laws as well as the passage of numerous international conventions. Experts estimate that Satyarthi’s efforts have resulted in millions of children worldwide being rescued from various forms of abuse.

In 2014, Satyarthi’s heroic work earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, for their “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Although many viewed the recognition as a culmination of more than 35 years of arduous work, the affable Nobel laureate and former electrical engineer was only just getting started. The prestigious award only strengthened Mr. Satyarthi’s commitment to ending child slavery around the world and increasing children’s access to quality education. To achieve these goals, he founded the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation in 2015 “to build a world where every child is free, healthy and in school.”

“The 100 Million for 100 Million” campaign was first unveiled in December 2016 at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. Inaugurated by Satyarthi, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and hundreds of thousands of other social activists, fellow Nobel laureates, advocates and children, the initiative encapsulates major launches, outreach and campaign events in 10 different countries spanning every continent. By 2019, Satyarthi’s foundation aims to have garnered the support of 40 million young people around the world all focused on ending child slavery and exploitation through social media mobilization and youth empowerment.

Speaking about the impetus and vision of the campaign, Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi said: “Starting today, let us build the legacy we want to leave behind. I see a world where every child is free, safe and educated… where justice guides the rule of law, where governments and inter-governmental agencies create holistic policies for the well-being of children. I see a world where science and technology play a pivotal role in creating systems that deter crime – where via economic arguments we make children the beneficiaries of growth and not slaves of it. I see a world where young people drive change.”

The Bangladesh event represented the first launch of the campaign outside India. Speaking in Dhaka, Satyarthi declared, “Bangladesh is my second home and has the power to lead the world.” He noted that it was one of the 10 countries that had taken the 100 Million pledge.

“In Bangladesh, the campaign aims to ensure education and healthy lives for six million disadvantaged youths. It wants to ensure secure lives for youths from ethnic minority groups, young women and the disabled,” said the Ganasakkharata Ovijan, Satyarthi’s local partner organization in Bangladesh.

Satyarthi also emphasized the connection between inequality and human security. “The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population,” he noted, citing a report from Oxfam. “As we hold this meeting, 260 million children are not attending school and 21 million people are being sold to slavery. This is unacceptable, this cannot be tolerated.” But he stressed that the solution could be found with the country’s young people, “No power in the world can match the power of youth.”

He went on, “Let us pledge to eliminate child labor and ensure education for all,” Satyarthi said in Dhaka. The audience, which included government ministers, activists, but mostly children, chanted together, “We will build our future.”

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Desai, Ronak. “Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi launches children’s rights campaign in Bangladesh.” , April 5, 2017.