Activists’ hard work fighting for workers’ rights often goes unrecognized. This week, however, two leading labor activists received global recognition for their defense of vulnerable workers and innovative organizing and advocacy campaigns. The AFL-CIO applauds our long-standing partners Kailash Satyarthi and Alejandra Ancheita.
Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to eradicate child labor and forced labor. In 1998, Satyarthi created the Global March Against Child Labor, a coalition of unions and child rights organizations from around the world, to work toward elimination of child labor. Global March members and partners are now in more than 140 countries. See Solidarity Center post below:
Labor and human rights activist and longtime Solidarity Center ally Kailash Satyarthihas won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel committee announced this morning. He shares the prestigious award with Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who survived a brutal 2012 Taliban attack for her stance on girls’ education.
As a grassroots activist, Satyarthi has led the rescue of more than 78,500 child laborers and survived numerous attempts on his life as a result. As a PBS profile describes Satyarthi’s work: “His original idea was daring and dangerous. He decided to mount raids on factories—factories frequently manned by armed guards—where children and often entire families were held captive as bonded workers.”
Solidarity Center Asia Regional Director Tim Ryan said, "Kailash's lifetime commitment to the cause of eradicating child labor is an inspiration to every human rights defender around the world to promote the rights of the most vulnerable, the most economically exploited young workers, and the paramount importance of finding ways to secure basic education for all children around the world."
Satyarthi’s decades of work to end exploitive child labor has encompassed advocacy for decent work and working conditions for adults, including domestic workers, because impoverished families must often make the difficult choice of sending their children to work for the sake of family survival.
“Child labor is a largely neglected, ignored, denied aspect of human rights,” Satyarthi told the Solidarity Center in a recent interview. “This is crime against humanity and is unacceptable in any civilized society.”
Alejandra Ancheita, a Mexican human rights lawyer and executive director of the human rights organization ProDESC, received the prestigious Martin Ennals Award. Ancheita and ProDESC have fought for 15 years to protect land and labor rights of indigenous groups and Mexican workers from transnational mining and energy companies. ProDESC has collaborated closely with Los Mineros and United Steelworkers on organizing campaigns at Excellon in Durango and Goldcorp in Guerrero, and has also worked with the AFL-CIO and Solidarity Center on the defense of migrant workers’ human rights.