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Malala Yousafzai is youngest Nobel nominee
The 15-year-old Pakistani girl has refused to give up her campaign for girls' education even after being shot in the head by the Taliban.
By Yasir Rehman and Staff
ISLAMABAD – Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani peace activist from Swat who was shot in the head by the Taliban last October, has become the youngest nominee in Nobel Peace Prize history.
Malala is competing with world leaders but is considered a favourite for the award, media reported March 5.
Others among the record 259 nominees include Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, for his efforts to end the half-century-old guerrilla war in his country, and Burmese President Thein Sein, who has worked to democratise the military dictatorship he inherited, said sources aware of the committee's discussions.
Malala is still recovering in England from injuries sustained during the Taliban's October 9 failed attempt to assassinate her in Mingora for promoting girls' education.
Pakistan welcomes nomination
"Malala's nomination is a great day for all Pakistanis," Pakistani Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told Central Asia Online.
"It is highly encouraging for all the women around the globe who are determined to seek and promote education," he said. "Malala has become an ideology not only in Pakistan but all over the world for women's right of education."
Kaira said Malala's nomination would strengthen all forces that want to empower women in developing countries, noting that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proclaimed November 10 as Malala Day.
"It also symbolises the importance to and acknowledgment by the international community of the great sacrifice made by Malala," he said.
Prize committee has work cut out for it
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which announces the Peace Prize winner October 12, will wade through a record-setting 259 nominations. The previous record for nominations was 241 in 2011. Various officials and organisations around the world are authorised to nominate candidates.
"She is a candidate who embodies several causes: the rights of girls and women, education, youth, and the fight against extremism," said prize observer Kristian Berg Harpviken, the head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, AFP reported March 4.
The youngest winner to date is Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman, who was 32 when she won in 2011.
Awards and honours pile up
Moved by Malala's sacrifice and courage, the world community has showered her with honours for years. Since she first became famous in 2009 after blogging under a pseudonym about the Taliban's reign of terror in the Swat Valley, she has accumulated a series of accolades.
- She was a runner-up for the 2011 International Children's Peace Prize, one of five nominees and the first Pakistani girl ever nominated for the award.
- Then-Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani December 19, 2011 awarded Malala Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize – later renamed the National Malala Peace Prize.
- The Government Girls Secondary School on Mission Road, Karachi, was renamed in her honour January 3, 2012.
- The Express Tribune daily named her to its list of 2011 "Game Changers" in January 2012.
After she was shot, the honours only continued to pile up.
Last year, Foreign Policy magazine put her on its list of top global thinkers. At the end of 2012, Time magazine named her one of four runners-up for its 2012 Person of the Year award.
She also won the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice, along with Afghan women's rights activist Sima Samar last November.
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno awarded her the 2012 Rome Prize for Peace and Humanitarian Action last December.
On January 1, she won the 2012 Tipperary International Peace Award for her courage and determination in supporting equal access to education for all.