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Malala honoured with top EU award
A schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for championing girls' rights to an education has been honoured with one of the European Union's highest awards.
Malala Yousafzai has been awarded the 2013 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, awarded annually by the European Parliament to those who stand up for human rights.
The 16-year-old is one of the favourites to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, whose winner is due to be announced by the Nobel Committee tomorrow.
Malala has earned plaudits from across the world after recovering from a failed assassination attempt by the Pakistani Taliban in October last year in which she was shot in the head as she travelled with classmates on a school bus.
Only after prompt medical treatment in Pakistan and later, following an emergency airlift to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, did she survive.
Since the age of 11, Malala has campaigned for the right to education for girls in her country - something the Taliban have strongly opposed.
Following further medical treatment and surgery in her adoptive home, the city of Birmingham, she recovered to speak at the United Nations in July and was feted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for her tireless work in the face of adversity.
Today, announcing the award of the Sakharov Prize, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz also praised Malala's advocacy on behalf of the millions of girls around the world who are denied their basic right to an education.
He said: "By awarding the Sakharov Prize to Malala Yousafzai, the European Parliament acknowledges the incredible strength of this young woman.
"Malala bravely stands for the right of all children to be granted a fair education.
"This right for girls is far too commonly neglected.
"Malala has courageously recovered from a Taliban attack and now eloquently advocates through the world for this fundamental and just cause.
"Let us not forget that Malala is still threatened in Pakistan."
He added: "As tomorrow is the International Day of the Girl Child, I would like to recall that some 250 million young girls around the world cannot freely go to school.
"Malala's example reminds us of our duty and responsibility to the right to education for children.
"This is the best investment for the future."
Noted past recipients of the Sakharov award include two former Nobel Peace Prize winners; former South African president Nelson Mandela and Burmese politician and former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi.
The prize, which comes with 50,000 euro (£42,400), is considered the European Union's top human rights award.