Analysis by Rachel Avraham about why The Nobel Prize Committee should have given the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafza
Malala Yousafza Photo Credit: Channel 2
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, even though they have done nothing to end the bloodshed in Syria and haven’t finished dismantling all of Syria’s chemical weapons, while one young 16-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafza, who almost died in an assassination attempt for having the courage to stand up to the Taliban’s oppression of women and who already has a proven trek record in promoting female education on BBC Urdu, did not.
It is clear to many analysts that this was a mistake. Tarek Fatah, a Pakistani human rights activist and columnist for the Toronto Sun, wrote: “The Nobel Prize committee continued the cruel joke on the Syrian people today by awarding the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) its infamous peace prize for their efforts in Syria. While the OPCW may do important and necessary work, the Nobel Committee is the latest perpetrator of this false narrative that removing chemical weapons solves the Syrian problem.”
He continued, “The death toll in Syria continues to rise as Bashar Assad takes full advantage of the breathing room he has negotiated through Russia. Assad sacrificed his chemical weapons to avert military action from the United States. The international community has done nothing to prevent the ongoing genocide of the Syrian people.” To the contrary, in regards to Malala, Fatah emphasized, “Millions of people have been inspired. Hundreds of thousands of people, including Nobel Prize winners and government leaders, have now taken action on Malala’s behalf. She should be given the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Why Malala should have been the winner
By age 16, Malala has done more to promote women’s rights than most adults. Before the age of 10, she gave a speech in the Swat Valley of Pakistan denouncing the Taliban for trying to rob young girls of their right to receive an education. In 2009, she started a blog in BBC Urdu denouncing the Taliban while most girls’ schools were closed down. She was later on featured in a documentary, promoting women’s rights in Pakistan. Following that, she was shot by the Taliban while on the way home from school and almost died.
Since she recovered from the assassination attempt in the United Kingdom, she set up the Malala Fund to raise awareness about the plight of young girls and gave a speech at the United Nations Education First Initiative. She was also awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize that is traditionally given to people who “combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression” and recently met with US President Obama, to discuss ways to promote women’s education. Her story has been an inspiration to millions of people around the world who care about women’s rights, freedom, and human rights. World leaders are considering taking more actions to improve female education because of her example. US Secretary of State John Kerry has emphasized, “Gender equality is critical to our shared goals of prosperity, stability and peace.” A report in the Washington Post noted that research has demonstrated that educating women leads societies in a more peaceful direction. Given this, Malala should have been considered the “champion of peace” par excellence by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.
Past mistakes of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee
This was not the first time that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee made such an error. Yasser Arafat, whose whole life was committed to promoting terrorism, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize merely for just promising in English to make peace with Israel, while his words expressed in Arabic the contrary. In the end, he walked away from peace negotiations in 2000 and pursued a terrorist campaign of suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada, demonstrating that awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize before he actually implemented a peace agreement was premature at best.
US President Obama also won the Nobel Peace Prize, merely for promising to usher in a peaceful era following the administration of former US President George W. Bush. As time has proven, in the wake of the Arab Spring and with Iran on the verge of going nuclear, US President Obama has utterly failed to bring about an era of peace and prosperity in the world. In reality, he has sat back and watched Assad commit democide against his own people; did nothing to help the pro-democratic Green Movement in Iran; persecuted the Egyptian people for overthrowing the Islamist leadership of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a supporter of female genital mutilation known for his anti-Jewish and anti-Christian sentiment. Furthermore, with Obama’s repeated demands to stop settlement construction, a negotiated peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis is further away than it was under the Bush administration.
Awarding Obama and Arafat before they actually implemented peace on the ground is the same sort of philosophy that led to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons getting awarded before the bloodshed has come to an end in Syria and before Assad’s chemical weapons have even been completely dismantled. Perhaps one year from now, if it is discovered that Assad successfully hid some of the chemical weapons from inspectors or that Assad used the know-how to make additional chemical weapons to replace the other ones that were destroyed, people will speak the same way about giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that they do now about giving the Nobel Peace Prize to US President Obama and former Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat. Maybe not! Perhaps they will be successful, but even if they are, why give them the Nobel Peace Prize unless they actually succeeded to bring peace and stability to Syria when there are more qualified candidates out there?