In 1980, Kailash Sathyarthi gave up his career as an electrical engineer and became secretary general for the Bonded Labor Liberation Front; he also founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement) that year. He conceived and led the Global March Against Child Labor and its international advocacy body, the International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE), which are worldwide coalitions of NGOs, teachers and trades unionists. He has also served as the President of the Global Campaign for Education, from its inception in 1999 to 2011, having been one of its four founders alongside ActionAid, Oxfam and Education International.
In addition, he established GoodWeave International (formerly known as Rugmark) as the first voluntary labelling, monitoring and certification system of rugs manufactured without the use of child-labour in South Asia. This latter organisation operated a campaign in Europe and the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the intent of raising consumer awareness of the issues relating to the accountability of global corporations with regard to socially responsible consumerism and trade. Satyarthi has highlighted child labor as a human rights issue. He has argued that child labour perpetuates poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population growth, and other social problems, and his claims have been supported by several studies. He has also had a role in linking the movement against child labour with efforts for achieving "Education for All". He has been a member of a UNESCO body established to examine this and has been on the board of the Fast Track Initiative (now known as the Global Partnership for Education). Satyarthi has served on the board and committee of several international organisations including the Center for Victims of Torture (USA), the International Labor Rights Fund (USA), and the International Cocoa Foundation. Mr. Satyarthi’s sustained efforts to end child slavery, trafficking, forced labour and violence received international support when he succeeded in getting child protection and welfare-related clauses included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations back in September 2015.
Satyarthi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 "for the struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education". Satyarthi is the fifth Nobel Prize laureate for India and the second Indian laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize after Mother Teresa in 1979.
Kailash Satyarthi supported "Save the Girl Child" initiative by Sunita Dube, Chairperson of MedScape India and discussed the possible actions with Yogesh Dube, Child Rights Commission member for betterment of women and children, specifically their health and well being.
Kailash Satyarthi met His Holiness Pope Francis in Vatican City in November 2018 seeking support for a New Legally Binding International Law against Online Child Sexual Abuse. The Holy Father has extended his full cooperation and support to Kailash Satyarthi towards this endeavor and all other associated recommendations that are mentioned in the summary of discussion presented in this press note. Pope has already appointed an Officer from the Vatican to coordinate with Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation to work in this direction.
Satyarthi is building a global movement for an international law and response mechanism against digital and online forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse. In this regard he is meeting all stakeholders irrespective of caste, creed, religion, ethnicity, political affinity and nationality. Notably the Indian Government banned 857 pornographic websites in October 2018 following the demand that Kailash Satyarthi had made at Nagpur for ending online child sexual abuse and child pornography.