Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old education activist from Mingora, Pakistan, was a favorite in the running for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
Malala is known for the courage that she’s shown in the face of the Taliban in order to promote education for herself and other girls.
These girls are brought down by those who practice a strict version of Islamic law that prevents females from attending school. Her activism led to an attempted shooting by the Taliban.
She was recently asked, by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, what she would say to a Taliban gunman if confronted again.
“I would tell him how important education is and that I would even want education for your children, as well,” Malala said. “That’s what I want to tell you. Now, do what you want.”
To me, that sounds like a girl deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, I don’t think I could come up with a more peaceful response myself.
According to USA Today, Malala was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, European Union’s highest human rights honor on Oct. 10. Many believed that Malala would be the easy choice for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Well, they were wrong. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.
According to OPCW’s website, 81.71 percent of the world’s declared stockpile of 71,196 metric tons of chemical agent have been verified as destroyed since the organization’s foundation in 1997.
It’s a lot easier for an organization full of grown men and women who have the support of the vast majority of the world to destroy something as universally despised as chemical weaponry than it is to stand up, as a 16-year-old Pakistani girl, in the face of one of the world’s most powerfully violent terrorist organizations to promote something that they have been known to kill for.
Russell Stockard, who has a doctorate degree in Communication, said that Malala should have won the Nobel Peace Prize, because of what she means to equal rights for women everywhere.
“The OPCW is qualified and certainly contributes to the cause of peace,” Stockard said. “However, I strongly feel that Malala Yousafzai should have won the Prize. In my humble opinion, her case and leadership gives a personal voice and face to the struggle that women have to gain equal rights everywhere.”
Critics of the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision have said that the Nobel Peace Prize was given to OPCW as a way to promote the organization, rather than a prize for something that they’ve already accomplished.
While that may be a bit harsh, considering the work that the organization has done, it does seem like building awareness for OPCW was the objective of this year’s Prize.
The official press release for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize states, “Recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons. Some states are still not members of the OPCW. Certain states have not observed the deadline, which was April 2012, for destroying their chemical weapons.”
Instead of an explanation of why OPCW won the Prize, the overall theme of the release seems more like a public relations effort for the organization itself.
The Nobel Peace Prize is not supposed to be, simply, a platform for advertising.
Nathan Tierney, who has a doctorate degree from Columbia University and is chair of the philosophy department at CLU, said that OPCW’s prize was a bit premature, considering their work in Syria is a continuing process and the results remain to be seen.
“My gut reaction is that this decision seems somewhat premature,” Tierney said. “The organization hasn’t actually done anything yet and it is unclear as to whether the process (in Syria) will achieve anything.”
OPCW did nothing to deserve criticism for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. What they stand for is an undeniably noble cause. In my opinion, however, Malala Yousafzai was the best representation of peace for this world in 2013.
Published Oct. 23, 2013