Earlier this week, Malala Yousafzai was awarded as a co-winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. An activist for girls education, at only seventeen she is the youngest recipient of the award. After being shot while returning home from school in Pakistan two years ago, Malala has become a global icon who fights for children’s rights. She was quoted in an article in the Globe and Mail this weekend at a conference after finding out that she had received the award. Malala said that she believed that “[children] have the right to live a happy life.”
Malala’s statement can be taken apart as an argument with two premises and the following conclusion:
Premise 1: Not all children have the right to a happy life
Premise 2: All children deserve equal rights and opportunities
Premise 3: No children should be mistreated
Conclusion: Therefore, all children should be given the opportunity to have the basic needs to live a healthy and happy life, without being harmed.
By evaluating this argument, now the soundness of Malala’s statement can be determined.
- Premise 1: Is factually correct, as it is known that children in parts of the developing world suffer from poverty, hunger, and no right to education, leading to an unhappy life.
- Premise 2: Is an opinion that is practiced in the majority of the developed world, although is not globally practiced.
- Premise 3: Again, something that is enforced and practiced in the developed world, but not globally.
Although Malala’s argument is valid, there is an issue with the content, making it not a sound argument. Children will not live happy lives when premise 2 and 3 are not practiced worldwide. This argument is sound in countries such as Canada and the United States where children at least have basic rights. However, even in countries where there are children’s rights, there are children mistreated and abused. This argument is not applicable to every child, although every child does deserve the right to a happy life. Logically, if premise 2 and 3 were practiced, her argument would be sound, however they are not.
The origin of Malala’s statement goes back to the age of the Enlightenment, when views on children’s rights began to change. Opposition to child workers during the Industrial Revolution grew, when children as young as six worked in factories or coal mines with long hours and little pay. Social reformers began to campaign against these practices. Even in modern day, campaigns are held to end practices similar to the ones in the 1800’s during the industrial revolution.