The Centre for Midwifery, Maternal and Perinatal Health would like to take the opportunity to congratulate 17-year old Malala Yousafzai on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Her call for education for every child, especially every girl, is praiseworthy. But her work is more than a local activism; she put her life at risk. Two years ago she was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating the education of girls and women!
We know from our research in Nepal that educating girls has all sorts of positive effects. For example, it means they are likely to marry later, with is associated with having the first child later and having fewer children in total. This in turn means they have a greater chance of survival in childbirth. In Nepal the overall literacy rate (aged 5 years and above) rose from 54.1% in 2001 to 65.9% in 2011, but women (57.4%) still lag behind men (75.1%). We have seen a reduction in maternal mortality over the past two decades, which is in part driven the increase in education levels of girls.
As educators we feel strongly affiliated with her calling, but we must acknowledge that Malala was one of two winners this year. We would also like to congratulate Indian Human Rights Activist Kailash Satyarthi. Mr Satyarthi fights the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.
Malala is not only part of the minority of women who have ever won the Nobel Peace Prize, she is also the youngest ever to win the award!
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen