More than 87,000 people have signed a global petition calling for Pakistani schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, campaigners said on Friday.
The 15-year-old is recovering in hospital in Britain after Taliban gunmen in her native northwest Pakistan shot her last month after she protested against the restriction of girls’ education.
The attack has drawn international condemnation and Yousufzai has become a powerful symbol of resistance to the Taliban suppression of women’s rights.
On Friday, a campaign led by a Pakistani-British woman urged Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior government officials to nominate Yousufzai for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“A Nobel Peace Prize for Malala will send a clear message that the world is watching and will support those who stand up for the right of girls to get an education,” said Shahida Choudhary, a campaigner involved in the petition.
Choudhary said she wanted Cameron and other prominent politicians to write to the Nobel committee in Sweden to recommend Malala for the award.
Choudhary said that Malala does not represent just one woman, but all those who are deprived from their basic rights to education.
Writer and broadcaster Tarek Fatah originally started the appeal in Canada via petition website Change.org.
In Islamabad on Friday, the United Nations special envoy for global education, Gordon Brown, presented the Pakistani government with a separate petition that received more than one million signatures in support of Malala.
Brown said that the international community is ready to collaborate and further facilitate Pakistan in their efforts to eradicate poverty.
“There is no more precious asset, no greater investment, nothing that signifies better your faith in the future, but the help and support you give to every child in your country,” Brown added in the meeting attended by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
A recent U.N. report noted that Pakistan had the second worst global rate of children out of school with as many as 5.1 million children out of classrooms. Of these, 3 million were girls.
Malala on Friday thanked her global supporters, one month on from the brutal attack.
“She wants me to tell everyone how grateful she is and is amazed that men, women and children from across the world are interested in her well-being,” said her father Ziauddin Yousafzai.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on Friday published photos of Malala sitting and reading a book, while surrounded by get-well cards.
Armed men in Mingora, the main town in the Swat valley in northwest Pakistan, shot Malala in the head and shoulder on Oct. 9 after stopping the school bus on which she was travelling.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed to have targeted Malala because of her “pioneering role” in calling for girls’ education, and because of her general criticism of the Taliban.
Her shooting was the culmination of years of campaigning that had pitted the young girl against one of Pakistan’s most ruthless Taliban commanders, Maulana Fazlullah.
Fazlullah and his men have taken over Yusufzai’s native Swat District of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Taliban insurgents have blown up girls’ schools and publicly executed those they deem immoral. An army offensive in Swat has however forced many Taliban fighters to flee.