The international organisation for the defence of children’s rights KidsRights on Friday awarded its International Children’s Peace Prize to the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (16) and Divina Maloum (14) from Cameroon.
The award ceremony will take place on November 20 near The Hague (Netherlands) on World Children’s Day.
Both winners were selected from among 137 candidates from 56 countries for the prize, celebrating its fifteenth birthday and involving 1.2 billion people last year, according to KidsRights.
Divina founded the association Children for Peace in Cameroon in order to warn of the recruitment of children to join armed groups in the country, the target of terrorist attacks since 2014, and to consolidate its participation in the peace-building process and sustainable development. The C4P network now numbers 100 children living in the country’s ten regions.
“She gives them the means to be actors in the change and encourages them to take part in peace initiatives within their communities. She has organised an inter community peace camp for children, set up peace clubs in mosques and, with other children, drafted a children’s declaration condemning violent extremism,” KidsRights explained.
As for Greta Thunberg, she is a role model in terms of international student climate activism, according to the organisation. Following a period of depression lasting months when she stopped eating, going to school and speaking, the young Swede resolved to make changes in her own life concerning climate matters. She avoids flying, eats neither meat nor dairy products and never buys anything new, KidsRights pointed out.
Then, in August 2018, she pepped up and proceded to express herself. Inspired by the March for Our Lives movement and winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize 2018, she effectively sat down in front of the Swedish parliament with a banner of her own making on which “skolstrejk för klimatet” (school strike for the climate) was written. Greta Thunberg has since become an international figure in the fight against climate change.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a patron of KidsRights and the prize it has been awarding for more than ten years, addressed the winners with a personal message. “I have much admiration for you. Your powerful message is amplified by your youthful energy and unshakeable convictions according to which children have the capacity, if not the duty, to better their own futures. You are true actors for change and have shown in the most potent way there is that children can take the world forward.”