International Children’s Peace Prize 2018
How fitting that on the International Day of Children, the International Children’s Peace Prize ceremony would be held in the Cape Town City Hall, with the award being presented by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and patron of the Kids Rights Foundation, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in his home country.
“I am in awe of these children, whose powerful message is amplified by their youthful energy and an unshakable belief that children can, no must, improve their own futures. They are true changemakers who have demonstrated most powerfully that children can move the world.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Launched in 2005 in Rome during the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, the International Children’s Peace Prize is awarded each year to a child who has made a difference for the rights of children worldwide. Each year, the prize is awarded by a Nobel Peace Laureate, and so this year, in the 100th year of Nelson Mandela’s birth, and the 10th year of Archbishop Tutu being a patron of the the foundation and award, it was fitting that the ceremony leave the Netherlands for the first time in its history, on its fifteenth anniversary, to take place in the home country of the first prize winner, Nkosi Johnson, who was awarded posthumously for his fight for recognition and de-stigmatization of children with HIV/AIDS.
Led into the ceremony by the harmonious sounds of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and the Soweto Gospel Choir, this moving event raised the audience to their feet in a standing ovation time and again as the speakers took to the stage to share their inspirational stories. Gail Johnson, foster mother of Nkosi, whom the award is named after, recounted his struggles and his relentless determination. Chaeli Mycroft, winner of the prize in 2011 for her advocacy for the rights of children with disabilities, welcomed fellow laureates and delegates to her home country. Manuel Oliver, father of Joaquin Oliver who was one of those fatally wounded in the Parklands school shooting on 14th February this year, brought out a life-sized sculpture of his son, and shared his final hours and acts of love in a moving tribute that honoured Joaquin as an activist against gun violence.
Finalists for the 2018 Award
The finalists for the 2018 award were all well deserving changemakers making a difference in the lives of other children.
17 Year old Moni Begum from Bangladesh has rescued more than 200 girls from child marriage. She became an activist at the age of nine after her sister was forced to marry an older man who abused her. Moni confronts parents, informs teachers and involves the police where necessary to prevent other young girls from suffering the same fate as her sister.
18 Year old Leilua Lino from Samoa, was raped by her father when she was nine. Her father was sentenced to 29 years in prison, and Leilua’s courage in court and her efforts to raise awareness in primary schools has reached more than 3,000 children, encouraging them to report abuse. She has helped 200 children recover from trauma in peace gardens she has established at her campus.
A group of four teenagers, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch initiated the March for Our Lives campaign in the United States, following a mass shooting at their school that resulted in 17 fatalities. They organised an event which protests gun violence and demands safer schools and communities, and have persuaded, through rallies, thousands of young people to register to vote. Since its initiation, more than 25 states have passed more than 50 pieces of legislation in line with their cause.
March For Our Lives Wins the 2018 International Children’s Peace Prize
Archbishop Tutu said that March For Our Lives is one of the most significant youth-led mass movements in living memory. “The peaceful campaign to demand safe schools and communities and the eradication of gun violence is reminiscent of other great peace movements in history. I am in awe of these children, whose powerful message is amplified by their youthful energy and an unshakable belief that children can, no must, improve their own futures. They are true changemakers who have demonstrated most powerfully that children can move the world.”