Kailash Satyarthi has been a tireless global advocate of children’s rights for four decades. He left a lucrative career as an electrical engineer and started Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) to rescue children and their families from the shackles of slavery, paving the way for their reintegration into mainstream society. Under his aegis, the movement has rescued over 88,000 children from the scourge of bondage, trafficking and exploitative labour.
In 1998, Satyarthi conceived and led the largest civil society network for the most exploited children – the Global March against Child Labour that traversed 103 countries and covered 80,000 kms, mobilising unions, civil society and most importantly, children with a sole demand for an ILO Convention on Worst Forms of Child Labour. This march led to the adoption of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour which went on to become the fastest ratified convention in the history of ILO. Satyarthi is also the architect of the Global Campaign for Education, an exemplar civil society movement working to end the global education crisis. Mr. Satyarthi is credited for the first ever civil society – business coalition by establishing Rugmark (now known as Good Weave) – the first of its kind certification and social labelling mechanism for child labour free carpets. This mechanism was engineered by Mr. Satyarthi much before the phrase corporate social responsibility was even coined.
In 2014, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.
In 2016, Satyarthi founded a novel and unique initiative Laureates and Leaders for Children that has brought together several Nobel Laureates and leaders from across the globe to build a sense of urgency, collective responsibility and a strong moral voice to galvanise political will for ensuring the rights and safety of world’s children and young people in an endeavour to end violence against them and creating a child-friendly world.
Satyarthi’s unrelenting efforts to end child slavery, trafficking, forced labour and violence received international support when he succeeded in getting child protection and welfare-related clauses included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations back in September 2015.
Satyarthi envisions a world where the youth realises its truest potential as the agent of positive social transformation. It is for this reason he launched the 100 Million for 100 Million Campaign in December 2016. This campaign is a global intervention to mobilise 100 million youth to shape a better future for 100 million children who have been denied their rights and liberties.
Satyarthi has raised a demand for a new legally binding UN convention against online child sexual abuse and pornography and is now working with the Heads of States and other influencers like international organisations, faith leaders, civil society and youth organisations to see it through to fruition.
To realise his vision of ending violence against children, he founded Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation to work towards a child-friendly world where all children are free, safe, healthy and educated.