The moral of Malala Yousafzai and her Nobel Prize

Where were the adults as the teen earned her Nobel Prize?

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The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize jointly to Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi is to be applauded.

In an age of tension between religions and states, to recognise the shared purpose of a Muslim and a Hindu, a Pakistani and an Indian, lets us glimpse, perhaps, a kind of antidote.

It is also apposite that the committee should decide this year to bestow the prize on those who have endeavoured to improve the lot of children. The world is a dark place for far too many young people; indeed, that has seemed no truer than in recent times.

In Syria, thousands of minors have been killed and many tortured in the most brutal of civil wars. Israel’s episodic battle with Hamas left hundreds of Palestinian children dead this summer. The use by Isis and other militants of child soldiers is sickening. Revelations here about paedophile rings, historical and contemporary, show that British children are not immune to the depravity of adults. By comparison with these horrors, the critical challenges posed by hunger, disease, child labour and illiteracy feel like dull footnotes.

Some may question the relevance of awarding the Peace Prize to someone as young as Malala. Yet she has experienced and achieved more by the age of 17 than most people will in a lifetime. Crucially, she has used her story to inspire countless others, adults and children alike. Her name is synonymous with overcoming adversity.

Only one aspect of the committee’s decision feels questionable. Malala, say its members, has “shown by example that children and young people too can contribute to improving their own situations”. Well, up to a point perhaps, but should they have to? The world is run by grown-ups: our responsibility to protect the rights of children must not be abrogated, nor be delegated, to the kids themselves.