Kailash Satyarthi (born on January 11, 1954) is a human rights activist from India who has been at the forefront of the global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labor since 1980 when he gave up a lucrative career as an Electrical Engineer for initiating crusade against Child Servitude. As a grassroots activist, he has led the rescue of over 78,500 child slaves and developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation. As a worldwide campaigner, he has been the architect of the single largest civil society network for the most exploited children, the Global March Against Child Labor,which is a worldwide coalition of NGOs, Teachers' Union and Trade Unions. As an analytical thinker, he made the issue of child labor a human rights issue, not a welfare matter or a charitable cause. He has established that child labor is responsible for the perpetuation of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population explosion and many other social evils. He has also played an important role in linking the fight against child labor with the efforts for achieving 'Education for All'.
Mr. Satyarthi is a member of a High Level Group formed by UNESCO on Education for All comprising of select Presidents, Prime Ministers and UN Agency Heads. As one of the rare civil society leaders he has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, International Labour Conference, UN Human Rights Commission, UNESCO, etc and has been invited to several Parliamentary Hearings and Committees in USA, Germany and UK in the recent past. As an advocate for quality and meaning ful education, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi has addressed some of the biggest worldwide congregations of Workers and Teachers Congresses, Christian Assembly, Students Conferences, etc. as a keynote speaker on the issue of child labour and education.
He is on the Board and Committee of several International Organizations. Amongst all the prominent ones being in the Center for Victims of Torture (USA), International Labor Rights Fund (USA), etc. Mr. Satyarthi is an executive Board Member of International Cocoa Foundation with the Headquarters in Geneva representing the global civil society. He has survived numerous attacks on his life during his crusade to end child labour, the most recent being the attack on him and his colleagues while rescuing child slaves from garment sweatshops in Delhi on 17 March 2011. Earlier in 2004 while rescuing children from the clutches of a local circus mafia and the owner of Great Roman Circus, Mr. Satyarthi and his colleagues were brutally attacked. Despite of these attacks and his office being ransacked by anti social elements a number of times in the past his commitment to stand tall for the cause of child slaves has been unwavering.
He has been honoured by the Former US President Bill Clinton in Washington for featuring in Kerry Kennedy's Book ‘Speak Truth to Power', where his life and work featured among the top 50 human rights defenders in the world including Nobel Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wessel, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, etc. He has edited magazines like ‘Sangarsh Jari Rahega', ‘Kranti Dharmi', and ‘ Asian Workers Solidarity Link'. Besides, authored several articles and booklets on issues of social concern and human rights.
He has set up three rehabilitation-cum-educational centres for freed bonded children that resulted in the transformation of victims of child servitude into leaders and liberators. His life and work has been explicitly covered in hundreds of programmes on all the prominent television and radio channels including Wall Street Journal, BBC, CNN, ABC, NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian T.V., ARD, Austrian News, Lok Sabha TV etc. and profoundly featured in several magazines like The Time, Life, Reader's Digest, Far Eastern Economist, Washington Post, New York Times, Times London, Los Angeles Times, Guardian, Independent, The Times of India, etc.
In addition, to the Global March Against Child Labor, other organizations he has founded and/or led include Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the Global Campaign for Education, and the Rugmark Foundation now known as Goodweave. He is the Chair of another world body International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE) in Washington, D.C. ICCLE is one of the foremost policy institution to bring authentic and abiding southern grassroots perspective in the US policy domain. "The Global March Against Child Labour is a movement to mobilise worldwide efforts to protect and promote the rights of all children, especially the right to receive a free, meaningful education and to be free from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be harmful to the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development."