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Nobel Winner Hopes Prize Puts Focus on Child Slavery

Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi laughs at his office in New Delhi October 10, 2014.

In more than three decades at the forefront of a movement to free children from slave labor, Kailash Satyarthi has seen many challenges.

"I have been fighting against the system [that] creates and perpetuates child slavery and illiteracy,” the New Delhi-based Indian activist told VOA. "I know I have been fighting against some Western interests and sometimes against mafia, and that will go on. But it is not my personal fight. It is the fight of hundreds of activists in India and thousands of activists globally."

The 60-year-old Satyarthi – named Friday as co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – said he hopes the attention will help compel governments, the corporate sector and civil society to take seriously the issue of eradicating child labor.

He shares the prestigious award with 17-year-old education activist Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.

The two activists have common missions, Satyarthi said.

"Child labor and lack of education are two sides of the same coin, especially in the case of girls. So we have to ensure education for all children – but we have to save them from human trafficking, slavery, bonded labor, child labor, et cetera, and also from all sorts of insurgencies and violence and terror."

Satyarthi said he has invited Malala to work in a joint campaign called Peace for Children and Children for Peace, which will work to ensure that children are brought up in a peace-filled environment.

Satyarthi is the first Indian-born winner of the peace prize. According to the Nobel Prize website, Mahatma Gandhi was nominated five times. The last was in 1948, the year he was assassinated.