New York: Lauding this year's Nobel Peace laureates Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the two "remarkable" Asians give hope to people around the world struggling against exploitation and assured the world body's support to their "vitally important work".
Ban congratulated Satyarthi and Yousafzai in his remarks to the Asia Society Game Changer Awards here yesterday, noting that the awards celebrate an array of "remarkable" Asians.
The inaugural award has been instituted by leading educational and cultural organisation Asia Society honouring "true leaders making a positive contribution to the future of Asia."
Ban said the world got a head start on the awards ceremony with the announcement last week that the year's Nobel Prize for Peace was being "shared by two remarkable Asians".
The UN chief said that Satyarthi and Yousafzai "give hope to people around the world struggling against exploitation, discrimination and violence".
"They are also good friends of the United Nations. Both have brought their calls for empowering children to UN gatherings. The United Nations will continue to support their vitally important work," he said.
The Asia Society Game Changer Awards has been given to 11 pioneers, including to Yousafzai and two Indians, Pawan Sinha, Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT and Madhav Chavan, co-founder and CEO of the Pratham Charitable Trust.
Yousafzai addressed the ceremony via video message from Birmingham, England, where she is completing her studies.
"I thank the Asia Society for this honor, of being included in [this] list of remarkable people," Yousafzai said.
"There are so many countries and there are issues that children are suffering through, but there are game changers as well who are going to speak, who are going to change the game, and who are going to work for their future. We have to do it together," she said.
The other honourees include chairman of the Alibaba Group Jack Ma, Oscar-winning Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Founder of Shigeru Ban Architects in Japan Shigeru Ban, Minister and Senior Advisor to the Indonesian President Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Professor at Shanghai Normal University Zhang Minxuan and Moby Group chairman Saad Mohseni of Afghanistan.A South Korean native, Ban said he is "proud to be a son of Asia" and said that the region has a leadership role to play and is a centre of innovation and economic dynamism.
"It is thanks to Asia's robust economic growth that the world can say it has successfully achieved the Millennium Development Goal of cutting poverty in half. An Asia on the rise means a world on the rise," he said.
Ban noted that the world is facing "difficult times" and "multiple crises" like the conflict in Syria, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and rise of extremism.
He called on the awardees and the governments in the region to join hands to tackle "worrying challenges, including competing territorial or maritime claims, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, backsliding in democratization, the curtailment of human rights and a rise in religious intolerance and ultra-nationalism.