OSLO, Norway - Taliban attack survivor Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel winner ever as she and Kailash Satyarthi of India won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for working to protect children from slavery, extremism and child labor at great risk to their own lives.
By honoring a 17-year-old Muslim girl from Pakistan and a 60-year-old Hindu man from India, the Norwegian Nobel Committee linked the peace award to conflicts between world religions and neighboring nuclear powers as well as drawing attention to children's rights.
"This award is for all those children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard," said Malala, who chose to finish her school day in the central English city of Birmingham before addressing the media. "They have the right to receive quality education. They have the right not to suffer from child labor, not to suffer from child trafficking. They have the right to live a happy life."
She said it was an honor to share the prize with Satyarthi, who has worked tirelessly to protect children, and invited the prime ministers of both India and Pakistan to attend the Nobel ceremony in December.
Satyarthi has been at the forefront of a global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labor, which he called a "blot on humanity."
"Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here. A lot of work still remains, but I will see the end of child labor in my lifetime," Satyarthi told the Associated Press at his office in New Delhi.
News of the award set off celebrations on the streets of Mingora, Malala's hometown in Pakistan's volatile Swat Valley, with residents greeting each other and distributing sweets. At the town's Khushal Public School, which is owned by Malala's father, students danced in celebration Friday, jumping up and down.
When she was a student there two years ago, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for insisting that girls as well as boys have the right to an education. Surviving several operations with the help of British medical care, she continued both her activism and her studies.
Malala was in chemistry class when the Nobel was announced and remained with her classmates at the Edgbaston High School for girls.
Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, said the decision will further the rights of girls.
The Nobel will "boost the courage of Malala and enhance her capability to work for the cause of girls' education," he said.
Malala is by far the youngest Nobel laureate, eight years younger than the 1915 physics prize winner, 25-year-old Lawrence Bragg.
Before Malala, the youngest peace prize winner was 2011 co-winner Tawakkul Karman of Yemen, a 32-year-old women's rights activist.
In Washington, President Obama called the Nobel announcement "a victory for all who strive to uphold the dignity of every human being."
"Malala and Kailash have faced down threats and intimidation, risking their own lives to save others and build a better world for future generations," he said in a statement.
In a tweet, first lady Michelle Obama said of the two: "You're heroes to me and millions around the world."
Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said it was important to reward both an Indian Hindu and a Pakistani Muslim in the common struggle for education and against extremism. The two will split $1.1 million.
"There is a lot of extremism coming from this part of the world. It is partly coming from the fact that young people don't have a future. They don't have education. They don't have a job," Jagland told the AP.
Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the decision "has given pride to the whole of Pakistan."
India's President Pranab Mukherjee said the prize recognized "the contributions of India's vibrant civil society in addressing complex social problems such as child labor."
By highlighting children's rights, the committee widened the scope of the peace prize, which in its early days was only given for efforts to end or prevent armed conflicts.
Malala Yousafzai, who on Friday became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, will be in Philadelphia later this month.
The 17-year-old will receive the National Constitution Center's 2014 Liberty Medal on Oct. 21 at the museum on Independence Mall.
That same day, she will participate in a public talk with MSNBC host Ronan Farrow during the Forbes "30 Under 30" Summit to be held at the Convention Center.
Malala, an advocate for access to education for all children and women, survived being shot in head by a Taliban gunman while on a school bus in Pakistan. The Taliban had banned girls from attending schools.