Mr. Kailash Satyarthi is one of the tallest leaders and the loudest voice in the global fight against exploitation of children. Not caring even once about the life threatening attacks that he has survived, Mr. Satyarthi has personally rescued tens of thousands of children from the scourge of slavery. His fearless and unrelenting policy advocacy efforts towards elimination of violence against children have resulted in path-breaking legislations globally. His selfless and relentless efforts to protect every child as his own led to him being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. He continues fighting for child rights and protection with the same passion as he believes – “The Nobel Peace Prize is just a comma, not a full stop.”
Where it all began?
Mr. Satyarthi decided to give up a lucrative career as an Electrical Engineer and started publishing a magazine on social issues and taboos, along with some friends, named Sangharsh Jaari Rahega. It was during this time, when he was approached by Wasal Khan, a bonded labourer in a brick kiln of Punjab, with the plea to rescue his daughter from being sold in a brothel by his employer.
While he did manage to get Wasal, his daughter and other bonded labourers freed, it was not successful in the very first attempt.
This is when, the now four-decade old, movement started and Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) was established to rescue children and their families from the shackles of slavery paving way for their reintegration into mainstream society with the help of state actors under the legal policy framework of India.
Through his sustained policy advocacy efforts in India he played a pivotal role in mobilizing support ensuring the passage of the Child Labour Act in the year 1986. Under the aegis of Mr. Satyarthi, Bachpan Bachao Andolan has rescued over 90,000 children from the scourge of bondage, trafficking and exploitative labour over the last four decades in India.
While the children were being rescued, providing them proper rehabilitation was emerging as a major issue. Keeping this in mind Mr. Satyarthi established India’s first short-term transit rehabilitation centre for rescued children in Delhi named ‘Mukti Ashram’ in 1991.
In 1998, a long term rehabilitation centre ‘Bal Ashram’ was established at Virat Nagar near Jaipur in India. These rehabilitation centers for children rescued from exploitation, slavery and servitude are ideal and replicable models for child care institutions
Mr. Kailash Satyarthi is renowned for inclusion of child exploitation to global socio-political agenda. In 1998 he conceived and led one of the largest civil society movements Global March against Child Labour traversing across 103 countries covering 80,000 Kms with a demand for an International Law on Worst Forms of Child Labour. This eventually led to the adoption of ILO Convention No. 182 on worst forms of child labour which was formally acclaimed in 1999 and went on to become the fastest ratified convention in the history of ILO.
Mr Satyarthi is also the architect and leader of Global Campaign for Education (GCE) a civil society movement working to end the global education crisis and ensuring that States deliver the right of everyone to a free, quality public education. He successfully spearheaded a countrywide movement to make education a Constitutional Provision which subsequently paved way for the Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education in 2009 in India.
Mr. Satyarthi is credited for the first ever civil society – business coalition by establishing Rugmark (now known as Good Weave) earlier in 1994, which was the first of its kind certification and social labelling mechanism for child labour free carpets in South Asia. Since then he has been instrumental in promoting CSR initiatives in garment, mica mining, cocoa farming, sporting goods sector among others.
As one of the rare civil society leaders, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi has addressed the United Nations’ General Assembly, International Labour Conference, UN Human Rights Commission, UNESCO and several Parliamentary Hearings and Committees in the US, Germany, UK, Italy, Brazil, Panama, Nepal, Spain, Chile to name a few.
In 2014, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
Mr. Satyarthi’s sustained efforts to end child slavery, trafficking, forced labour and violence received international support when he succeeded in getting child protection and welfare- related clauses included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations back in September 2015.
He is also the Founder of Parliamentarians without Borders – a Movement that unites legislators across the globe in an endeavour to end violence against children. Mr. Satyarthi also addressed the General Assembly of Inter Parliamentary Union (the global body constituting all parliaments) soliciting support of law makers for child friendly policies.
In 2016, he engineered the first ever moral platform – Laureates and Leaders Summit for Children, which happens to be strongest podium for the cause of children across the globe. This initiative has brought together several Nobel Laureates and Leaders from across the globe to build a sense of urgency, collective responsibility and a strong moral voice to galvanise political will for ensuring the rights and safety of world’s children and young people in an endeavour to end violence against them and creating a child-friendly world. The first Summit was held at Rashtrapati Bhawan (President’s House) in Delhi while the second was organised at Jordan in 2018.
Mr. Kailash Satyarthi envisions a world where the Youth realizes its truest potential as the agent of positive social transformation. It is for this reason he launched the 100 Million for 100 Million Campaign in December 2016, which is a global intervention to mobilize 100 million youth for shaping a better future for 100 million children who have been denied their rights and liberties.
Mr. Satyarthi has demanded for a new legally binding UN convention against online child sexual abuse and pornography. Several Nobel Laureates, Heads of States and International Bodies like OECD and Global Leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of Panama, Her Highness Sheikha Moza of Qatar, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco among others have extended support for the cause. His Holiness Pope Francis has also strongly supported the endeavor.
Bharat Yatra against Child Sexual Abuse
In 2017, raising a clarion call against child sexual abuse, Mr. Satyarthi led the 12,000 Km Bharat Yatra (from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari) taking along the child abuse survivors; civil society organizations; politicians across party lines; bureaucrats; celebrities and faith leaders to put the national spotlight on this pressing issue.
In the wake of the brutal-gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedic student in Delhi in December 2012, Mr. Satyarthi played the pivotal role in steering the Indian Civil Society with a conspicuous demand for amendments in the Indian Criminal Law to counter Rape and Gender Based Violence that eventually led to the promulgation of Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.
His unrelenting efforts to synchronize the Indian Child Labour Act with The Right to Education Act and other International Conventions and Treaties that India is signatory to, led to the promulgation of the New Child Labour Law in 2016. On several occasions Bachpan Bachao Andolan under the auspices of Mr. Kailash Satyarthi has been able to secure landmark judgments from various High Courts and Supreme Court of India related to Missing Children; Definition of Trafficking; Establishment of Anti Human Trafficking Units; Registration and Regulation of Placement Agencies; Recovery of Back Wages & Ensuring compensation for survivors of modern slavery among others.
To achieve his vision of a world free of violence against children – where all children are free, safe, healthy and educated, he founded Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation in 2004. The Foundation’s raison d’être is to advocate for creation and implementation of child-friendly policies ensuring holistic development and empowerment of children across the globe.
The life and work of Kailash Satyarthi has been the subject of a number of films, documentaries, television series, talk shows, advocacy and awareness films, magazines and news items of all leading print and electronic media worldwide. Mr. Satyarthi’s contribution has been recognized through several prestigious national and international awards. Some of these include: