The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be announced at 5 a.m. EDT on Friday, and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot and critically injured by the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley for advocating women’s right to education, is a favorite to win the award, according to reports.
The 259 nominees for the coveted award are not known but bookmakers believe Yousafzai is a major contender.
“Malala is the very obvious choice. Most people are getting in behind her,” Féilim Mac An Iomaire, media manager for bookmakers Paddy Power, told ABC News. According to Paddy Power, Yousafzai is a 8/15 favorite and about 90 percent of the roughly $11,160 in bets the company has taken on the Nobel Prize, is on Yousafzai.
If she wins, the 16-year-old will be the youngest-ever Nobel laureate, and be awarded with a gold medal and $1.25 million.
Yousafzai has continued her education and women’s rights activism even after she was shot in the head by the Taliban, which is against girls’ education, and a Taliban spokesman told NBC News that the group thinks she will win the prize.
“Even if she becomes the president of the United States, it will not be a surprise to us,” Shahidullah Shahid said. “We knew what she was doing and what she had planned for the future and that’s why we decided to eliminate her last year.”
According to the NBC News report, the Taliban has not given up its intention to kill Yousafzai, and on Tuesday promised "all out" efforts to punish her relationship with the West.
Yousafzai rose to prominence in 2009 after writing a blog under a pseudonym for BBC Urdu about her life under Taliban influence, and the lack of education for girls. Her continued defiance of the rules laid down by the Taliban kept her in the limelight, and in 2009, she was approached by the New York Times, which produced two documentaries about her life.
And, in October 2012, the Taliban shot Yousafzai in the head and neck while she was returning home on a school bus, after which she was sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, for intensive rehabilitation.
Keerthi Mohan is an IBTimes reporter covering entertainment and human interest stories.