Malala Wins Top European Prize for Freedom of Thought

Award for Pakistani education advocate and Nobel Peace Prize contender Malala Yousafzai

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Jessica Rinaldi / AP

Malala Yousafzai addresses students and faculty after receiving the 2013 Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., on Sept. 27, 2013.

The young Pakistani girl who rose to fame when she survived a Taliban assassination attempt has won the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, which honors freedom of thought.

Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old activist, was for years a vocal advocate for girls’ education in the Muslim world. She was riding on a school bus in Pakistan when a Taliban gunman shot her in the head one year ago. She survived the wound, recovered in England, and has become a worldwide figure advocating universal education. She is considered a finalist for the Nobel Peace Prize, to be awarded Friday.

(MORE: Malala Marches on Toward Nobel Peace Prize)

In awarding the Sakharov Prize, which is worth about $67,000, European Parliament President Martin Schulz called Yousafzai a “brave advocate for education” who “reminds us of our duty toward children and especially girls.”