BRUSSELS, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai won the European Union's Sakharov prize for freedom of thought, the European Parliament announced Thursday.
Yousafzai, now 16, was 15 years old when a Taliban gunman shot her in the head for advocating for the right for girls to attend school. She had written on the subject for a BBC blog since 2009 when she was 11.
Belgian Liberal Member of Parliament Guy Verhofstadt said Malala "is an inspiration to every man, woman and child," EUobserver reported.
"The Taliban tried to silence Malala, but their violence and hatred has only made her stronger," said Charles Tannock, a British Conservative deputy.
Malala now lives in Britain, but the Taliban have said she is still a target because she speaks out against the Islamist group's version of Islamic law.
Along with Malala, Edward Snowden, who revealed information about the U.S. National Security Agency's massive monitoring program, and a group of Belarusian political prisoners -- Ales Bialatski, Eduard Lobau and Mykola Statkevich -- were among the three finalists for the award.
The Sakharov prize was named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, who won the Nobel peace prize in 1975. Since 1988, the prize has been awarded annually to people or organizations fighting for human rights and civil liberties. Malala will receive $67,000 as part of her award.