Nobel Peace laureate visit to include talk with students, faculty

Contact: Deanne Puca
Photo of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi holding his fists together with the words Freedom is non-negotiable written on his arms.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi's visit to WMU is part of the Great Lakes PeaceJam Spring Youth Conference Weekend Friday through Sunday, Feb. 22-24.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, a leading activist for the end of child slavery worldwide, will speak to Western Michigan University students and faculty Friday, Feb. 22. His talk at 2 p.m. in Room 2028 of Brown Hall is part of the Great Lakes PeaceJam Spring Youth Conference Weekend running through Sunday, Feb. 24, that draws more than 200 elementary-, middle-, high school- and college-age students from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. 

Satyarthi, who shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, is responsible for helping to free more than 87,000 children in India in partnership with his organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement.

He is encouraging college students to join his 100 Million Campaign, a movement to expose the system of child slavery that exists worldwide and help children to be free, safe and educated. Information is available at

Satyarthi will also speak to the public at PeaceJam's public address, "Free. Safe. Educated," at 7 p.m. Friday at the Thomas A. Kasdorf Auditorium located in Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo. A suggested donation of $15 per guest is requested. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online.

Additionally, a reception honoring Satyarthi will take place at 5:30 p.m., also at Loy Norrix High School. Tickets are $50 to attend the reception and will include hors d'oeuvres and refreshments, an opportunity to personally meet Satyarthi, and entry to the public address. Tickets must be purchased in advance online.

All of the proceeds from the reception and public address benefit the PeaceJam program in Kalamazoo.

Kailash Satyarthi

Born and raised in India, Satyarthi noticed at a young age that poorer families could not afford to send their children to school, and instead these children had to work for a living. It was at this age that he began his social activism to help other children be free from labor work and able to receive an education.

In 1980, he left his career as an electrical engineer and became the secretary general for the Bonded Labor Liberation Front, a nongovernmental organization working to end bonded labor in India. In that same year, Satyarthi founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save Childhood Movement, whose aim is to create a society where all children are free from exclusion and exploitation and can receive a free education. Since its beginnings, BBA has helped to identify instances of child slavery, liberate these children, and work to rehabilitate and educate them.

In addition to his work with the BBA, Satyarthi also founded the Global March Against Child Labour in 1998, one of the largest civil society movements to this day. Through the work of this movement, the International Labour Organizations Convention No. 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour was formally approved in 1999. 


Great Lakes PeaceJam is an affiliate of the international PeaceJam organization, which is a global leader in developing engaged, informed and compassionate young leaders. Its mission is to empower disenfranchised and at-risk youth to generate positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of more than a dozen Nobel Peace Laureates who directly work with PeaceJam.

The affiliate's annual conference is one component of its year-round programming for the region's K-12 students, college students and incarcerated youth.

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