Perhaps more than anything else, the legacy of Abraham Lincoln is helping to outlaw slavery in the United States. That’s why Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian social activist and winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, went to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Tuesday to deliver a powerful speech on freeing children from slavery.
“Every child should be free to be a child, be free to love, to play, to receive education and to have a dream,” declared Satyarthi. “Freedom is nonnegotiable.
“168 million children are producing wealth, clothes, shoes and the things you and I are using,” he said. “And more than 55 million of them are bounded with slavery, sex trafficking and [being] child soldiers.
“Children are working in hazardous [jobs] and facing life-threatening conditions every minute of their lives. They are sold like animals. And this is unacceptable.”
Satyarthi called for more attention from policy makers on education in developing countries, believing it is the fundamental step in ending child slavery.
“Companies like child labor because it’s cheap. They are easily exploited. They cannot form unions and go to polls,” said Satyarthi. “How ironic that we are laboring children while 200 million adults are in demand for jobs.”
Only 4 percent of foreign development assistance overseas supports education, and many developing countries spend only 2 to 3 percent of their gross domestic product on education, according to Satyarthi.
“Education is the foundation stone. You and I can wait, policy makers can wait, and business people can wait. But our children can’t wait,” said Satyarthi. “Paper and pencils are the most powerful weapons they can have.”
With hope in his eyes, Satyarthi ended his speech calling for collaboration from individuals and organizations.
“I strongly believe that no other segments and demographics of our life can ever match the enthusiasm, the courage and the inspiration of the youth today,” he said.
“Freedom is the right of every child. And together we will make it happen.”
At Free the Slaves, we share the same passion. We hope you will join our fight.
Learn how to take action here.