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Mandela and wife voted 'heroes' by world's children

world Updated: Nov 22, 2009 14:50 IST

Former South African president Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel have been voted Decade Child Rights Heroes by 7.1 million children, the World's Children's Prize foundation said on Friday.

"The 7,136,222 voting children have elected Graca Machel and Nelson Mandela as their first Decade Child Heroes," the World's Children Prize for the Rights of the Child foundation, based in Sweden, said in a statement.

The laureates were announced on the the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children at 53,000 schools in 101 countries voted for their favorite children's right advocate out of 13 candidates.

"Machel is being honoured for her long struggle for the rights of vulnerable children, primarily in Mozambique, and for her work for girl's rights in particular," the foundation said.

Machel and Mandela said they were "extremely honoured to have been voted as decade child rights heroes," according to the statement.

The pair underlined " too many children still suffer from hunger, no education, preventable diseases, abuse and neglect," telling the world's children, wherever they were "that we love you whole-heartedly."

The total prize amount is 1.1 million Swedish kronor (107,000 euros, 158,000 dollars), 500,000 of which will be awarded to Mandela and Machel. The rest will be split among the other candidates.

The prize will be handed out by children on April 26, 2010, in a ceremony at Stockholm city hall attended by Queen Silvia.