Kailash Satyarthi and his team at Bachpan Bachao Andolan have liberated more than 86,000 children in India from child labour, slavery and trafficking. In 1998, Satyarthi conceived and led the Global March against Child Labour, an 80,000 km (ca. 49,710 mi)-long march across 103 countries to put forth a global demand against worst forms of child labour. This became one of the largest social movements ever on behalf of exploited children. The demands of the marchers, which included children and youth (particularly the survivors of trafficking for forced labor, exploitation, sexual abuse, illegal organ transplants, armed conflict, etc.) were reflected in the draft of the ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. The following year, the Convention was unanimously adopted at the ILO Conference in Geneva.
He has served on the board and committee of several international organizations including the Center for Victims of Torture (USA), the International Labor Rights Fund (USA), and the Cocoa Initiative. Satyarthi was among Fortune magazine's "World's Greatest Leaders" in 2015 and featured in LinkedIn's Power Profiles List in 2017 and 2018. Satyarthi led a nationwide march, Bharat Yatra, in India covering 19,000 km (12,000 mi) in 35 days, to demand for legislation against child rape and child sexual abuse.
Satyarthi was born in a Brahmin
family in Vidisha, a small town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh into a middle-class household. He is the youngest among four brothers and a sister in his family. His father was a retired police head constable and his mother was an uneducated housewife with high morals. As per Satyarthi, the exceptionally idealistic and helpful nature of his mother had a big impact on him. He was raised in a locality (mohalla) where Hindus and Muslims lived with each other. As a four-year-old toddler, he learnt to read Urdu from the Maulvi at the neighboring mosque and learnt Hindi and English in his school.
Satyarthi was significantly affected by the lack of school access for all children and his experiences with poverty in his youth. He made efforts when young to try to change these inequalities due to the circumstances of their birth.
In 1998, Satyarthi conceived and led the Global March against Child Labour traveling across 103 countries covering 80,000 km to demand an International Law on Worst Forms of Child Labour. The march eventually led to the adoption of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labor.
He established GoodWeave International (formerly known as Rugmark) as the first voluntary labelling, monitoring and certification system of rugs manufactured without the use of child-labour in South Asia. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he focused its campaigns on raising consumer awareness on issues relating to the accountability of global corporations regarding socially responsible consumerism, trade and supply chains. Satyarthi has highlighted child labour as a human rights issue as well as a welfare matter and charitable cause. He has argued that it perpetuates poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population growth, and other social problems, his claims have been supported by several studies. He has had a role in linking the movement against child labour with efforts for achieving "Education for All". Satyarthi has been a member of a UNESCO body and has been on the board of the Fast Track Initiative (now known as the Global Partnership for Education). Satyarthi had served on the board and committee of several international organisations including the Center for Victims of Torture (USA), the International Labor Rights Fund (USA), and the International Cocoa Foundation. He brought child labour and slavery into the post-2015 development agenda for the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals.
Satyarthi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 "for the struggle against the suppression of children and young people and the right of all children to education". Satyarthi is the first natural-born Indian Nobel Peace Laureate.
Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi. The picture was taken at the press conference the day before they received the Nobel Peace Prize 2014
Bachpan Bachao Andolan was founded by Satyarthi in 1980 as a mass movement to create a child-friendly society where all children are free from exclusion and exploitation and receive free education. The movement identifies, liberates, rehabilitates, and educates in servitude through direct intervention, community participation, partnerships, and coalitions, promoting ethics in trade, unionizing workers, running campaigns on issues such as education, trafficking, forced brilliant labor, ethical trade, and by building child-friendly villages.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi
Satyarthi established GoodWeave International (formerly Rugmark), a network of a non-profit organizations dedicated to ending illegal child labor in the rug making industry which provided the first voluntary labeling, monitoring, and certification system of rugs manufactured without the use of child labor in South Asia. This organization operated a campaign in Europe and the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the intent of raising consumer awareness of the issues relating to the accountability of global corporations regarding socially responsible consumerism and trade. Rugmark International re-branded the certification program and introduced the GoodWeave label in 2009. The organization was re-branded to GoodWeave International.
U.S. President Barack Obama greets a young girl (Payal Jangid) who was the guest of Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi in New Delhi
The Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation (SCF) was established in 2004 by Satyarthi. It is a grassroots organization that spreads awareness and advocates for beneficial policies for children's rights. The foundation is the global umbrella for KSCF India and KSCF, USA.
The Bharat Yatra was launched by KSCF to spread awareness about child trafficking and sexual abuse. The campaign launched in Kanyakumari on 11 September 2017, and marched through seven routes covering 22 Indian states and Union Territories, and over 12,000 km. The campaign was aimed at starting a social dialogue about child sexual abuse and child trafficking, taboo issues in India, to protect children vulnerable within their homes, communities, and schools. The campaign collaborated with 5,000 civil society organizations, 60 Indian faith leaders, 500 Indian political leaders, 600 local, state, and national bodies of the Indian government, 300 members of the Indian judiciary, and 25,000 educational institutions across India.
More than 1,200,000 marched for 35 days which led to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2018 with a strict deterrent against child rape. The Yatra resulted in the Anti-Human Trafficking Bill being passed by the 16th Lok Sabha.
Satyarthi lives in New Delhi, India. His family includes his wife, a son, daughter-in-law, a grandson, daughter and a son-in-law.
Awards and honours
Satyarthi has been the subject of documentaries, television series, talk shows, advocacy and awareness films. In September 2017, India Times listed Satyarthi as one of the 11 Human Rights Activists Whose Life Mission Is To Provide Others with a Dignified Life Satyarthi has been awarded the following honours:
^ abKidwai, Rasheed (10 October 2014). "A street rings with 'Nobel' cry". The Telegraph (Calcutta). Calcutta. Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2014. arr Quila area of the town. […] locals were seen drawing affiliation to institutions linked to Satyarhti including his schools – Toppura Primary School, Petit semenaire Higher Secondary School and Samrat Ashok Technological Institute (SATI) from where Satyarthi graduated in Engineering and later taught there for two years before embarking his journey to serve humanity.
^ abKapoor, Sapan (11 October 2014). "Gandhiji would have been proud of you, Kailash Satyarthi". The Express Tribune Blogs. Karachi. Retrieved 14 October 2014. Mr Kailash Satyarthi has come a long way since his engineering days at Samrat Ashok Technological Institute, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, literally. My father, who was one year senior to this electrical engineering student, vividly remembers him […] who would come to the college in his staple kurta-payjama with a muffler tied around his neck.
^Trivedi, Vivek (11 October 2014). "Kailash Satyarthi's hometown Vidisha celebrates Nobel win". News18.com. Noida, Uttar Pradesh: Network18. Retrieved 14 October 2014. He was born and brought up in Chhoti Haweli in Andar Quila area of the town. […] locals were seen drawing affiliation to institutions linked to Satyarhti including his schools – Toppura Primary School, Pedi school and Government Boys Higher Secondary School and Samrath Ashok Technological Institute (SATI) from where Satyarthi graduated in Electrical Engineering and later taught there for two years before embarking his journey to serve humanity.