Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi tells Gordon Brown: I will use award to end child slavery

Gordon Brown, Up for School or #upforschool campaign

Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi admits he will shamelessly use his award to end “the living hell of slavery”.

Kailash was giving his first British interview before arriving in the United Kingdom tomorrow. The children’s rights activists will appear at Our Future, Our Rights – Youth Rising #UpForSchool, hosted by A World at School and the Overseas Development Institute. He will also be a keynote speaker at the Trust Women 2014 conference in London.

The rally, which will be live-streamed to young people around the world, will also mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Kailash – whose Delhi-based organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) has rescued hundreds of young girls and boys from slave-labour conditions at the hands of traffickers and gangs – said: “It is quite simple. I want to use my Nobel Peace Prize to end child exploitation and get every child to school.”

I spoke to the 60-year-old after a deluge of publicity that accompanied his joint award with Malala Yousafzai and told him that by winning the prize together they had done more to put children’s rights on the agenda than any recent event.

Kailash said: “In our commemoration of the convention on children we are exposing the living hell of slavery. Nothing less than a revolution in thinking and behaviour is required by all.

“It is about everybody taking responsibility for the world’s children who live in fear every night and suffer beyond imagination at the hands of slave masters, traffickers and gang masters.

“Why? Because they are all our children. Because the cruelty of slavery violates every basic human right and the inherent dignity of the individual.

“And because slavery destroys economies, justice and security, the wellbeing of future generations and most importantly, because it is morally wrong.

Kailash Satyarthi and Gordon Brown at an event in India

“Every child should be at school. To end child slavery requires serious introspection, complete ownership of the fact that we are miserably failing the children of our world, a visionary perspective about the world we can create and an unwavering faith that together we can achieve this goal.

“Our vision is to mobilise worldwide efforts to end child exploitation. We demand that the abolition of child slavery be incorporated into the post-2015 development agenda. And we demand the right of every child to go to school.”

Tomorrow’s rally, at the Southbank Centre, will include the London launch of the #UpForSchool Petition – started by young people to demonstrate the unprecedented public support for education and an end to discrimination against children.

The petition is backed by a coalition of more than 100 businesses, faith leaders, NGOs, teachers and influential individuals with the aim of making it the biggest petition in history. It will be put before the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and will call for the universal right to education.

With youth performers, celebrity guests and a lively rally atmosphere, Our Future, Our Rights – Youth Rising #UpForSchool will help push child rights higher up the international agenda and see real changes to international law and getting every child in to school, no matter who they are or where they are born.

Alongside speakers Kailash and ODI Executive Director Kevin Watkins, the rally will be attended by VIP special guests – including Camfed founder Ann Cotton, who has just won the 2014 WISE Prize for Education. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, will give special video messages for the occasion.

A World at School Global Youth Ambassadors and children’s education campaigners Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan – who were also injured when Malala was shot by the Taliban on her school bus in Pakistan – will also address the rally.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is 25 years old on November 20. A defining moment in history, the convention meant that, for the first time, all children around the world were viewed as human beings with their own set of rights.

You can send a message to world leaders that all children deserve an education. Sign the #UpForSchool Petition now.

You can also read about the #UpForSchool London rally and who will be attending.

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