- Moni Begum, Bangladesh (17 years old, theme: child marriage)
- The initiators of March For Our Lives, US (theme: safe schools and safe communities)
- Leilua Lino, Samoa (18 years old, theme: child abuse)
Amsterdam, 12 November 2018 – Archbishop Desmond Tutu has today announced the finalists of the International Children’s Peace Prize 2018 on behalf of the KidsRights Foundation. The young winner’s message each year reaches millions of people worldwide. From an impressive number of 121 children from 45 countries, KidsRights’ Expert Committee selected Moni from Bangladesh, the initiators of March For Our Lives from the US, and Leilua from Samoa. Archbishop Tutu, patron of the Children’s Peace Prize, will award the prize to this year’s winner on 20 November, Universal Children’s Day, during a very special ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa, which also celebrates the fifteenth anniversary of the KidsRights Foundation.
Personal congratulations from Archbishop Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has been the patron of The International Children’s Peace Prize and KidsRights for 10 years, will be honoured during the special ceremony in Cape Town. In a personal message to the finalists, Archbishop Tutu said: “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.”
Introducing the finalists
Moni Begum (17 years old, Bangladesh, theme: child marriage) became an activist against child marriage at the age of nine, after her own sister was forced to marry a much older man who physically and sexually abused her. She has rescued more than 200 girls from child marriage, by confronting parents, informing teachers and involving the police where necessary. Moni has also established a support system within her own organization which issues microloans to families to pay for their daughters’ education, far more useful to families, in her view, than early marriage.
Moni’s quote: “Influence the family, let her grow. If given the opportunity, she can become the whole world.”
Moni was nominated by Ashoka Innovation for the Public
March for our Lives
March For Our Lives (US, theme: safe schools and safe communities) was initiated by David Hogg, Emma González, Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch alongside more than 20 other American students, after their school had become the scene of a mass shooting in February 2018, with 17 fatal casualties. They organized the March For Our Lives event in the spring of 2018 to demand safer schools and communities and to protest gun violence. They have lobbied, held town hall rallies, and persuaded thousands of young people to register to vote. Since its advent, over 25 US states have passed more than 50 pieces of legislation consistent with the cause of March For Our Lives.
March For Our Lives’ quote: “There is no age restriction on fighting for justice and peace. We cannot afford to be bystanders when the cost of silence is life or death and the choice to act can be stripped in an instant.”
March For Our Lives was nominated by two members of the Expert Committee
Leilua Lino (18 years old, Samoa, theme: child abuse) was raped by her father when she was nine. Her father was sentenced to 29 years in prison and Leilua now lives at the Samoa Victim Support Group shelter, where she has become an Ambassador for Peace. Her courage in court and her awareness-raising efforts in primary schools across Samoa – through which she has reached more than 3,000 children – have inspired many more children to report their abuse. She created peace gardens in her campus which have helped 200 children to recover from trauma, and she speaks to them about her journey and the importance of finding inner peace.
Leilua’s quote: “Why should I turn against the whole world because of what I have lost? I am now at peace, and I share the gift of peace with the abused children of Samoa, by being their voice.”
Leilua was nominated by Samoa Victim Support Group