Mandela wins Swedish children’s rights award

Former South-African president Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel were on Wednesday awarded the Global Friends Award by Swedish organization Children's World for their defence of children's rights.

Nearly 2.4 million children from all over the world cast their vote in favour of the couple.

Mandela received the prize “for his long struggle for the freedom and equal rights of South Africa’s children and for his support today for vulnerable children and for his defence of the rights of the child”.

Graca Machel was also honoured for defending the the rights of children, “especially the right of girls to go to school”.

Mandela was represented at the ceremony by his daugher Zindzi, who transmitted a message from her father: “You children have my support, whether I’m alive or in the grave. Give my regards to the children in South Africa and elsewhere.”

After 27 years in South African prisons for his struggle against apartheid, Mandela founded the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund which he still runs.

“I was just 18 months old when my father was imprisoned and I only met him for the first time when I was 15 or 16,” Zindzi said. “Being deprived of a father means to be deprived of a normal childhood.”

A second prize, The World´s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC), was awarded to The Mothers of St. Rita, a group of 20 rural women in Kenya who have been helping children who are Aids orphans.

The prize sum (USD 100,000) will be used by the laureates in their future efforts to protect the Rights of the Child. AstraZeneca and Det Norske Veritas (DNV) have contributed to the prize sum.

The prize ceremony for 2005 will be held on 15 April at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred. Sweden’s Queen Silvia was due to present the prizes but will instead be attending the funeral of Prince Rainer of Monaco.

In her absence, Princess Christina, Mrs Magnuson, will present the $100,000 prizes, which have been sponsored by AstraZeneca and Det Norske Veritas (DNV). All three candidates will be honoured.

According to Children’s World, the money will be used by the laureates in their future efforts to protect the Rights of the Child

AFP/The Local