London: Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai on Friday missed out on winning the coveted Nobel peace prize which went to the OPCW, a UN-backed chemical weapons watchdog which came into prominence after the Syria crisis. Malala, 16, was among the favourites to win the prize for her bold campaign for girls` right to education in Pakistan.
The young activist emerged as a contender after continuing her work to promote better rights for girls despite being shot in the head by the Taliban.
A petition for Malala to be short-listed for the prize attracted more than half a million signatures from across the globe.
On Thursday, the teenager was awarded the European Union`s highest human rights honour, the Sakharov Award, beating US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. Malala, who is now based in Birmingham, UK, was shot by the Taliban as she travelled on a school bus in the Swat Valley in October last year.
She rose to prominence in 2009 when she wrote a blog for the BBC Urdu service about her life under Taliban rule and the lack of education for girls. Since the age of 11, Malala has campaigned for the right to education for girls in her country — something the Taliban has strongly opposed.
She now wants to become prime minister of Pakistan, following in the footsteps of her role model late Benazir Bhutto.
The UN-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was chosen for the award "for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons," Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said.
"Recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons," the Norwegian jury said in its statement.
The chemical watchdog was not considered among the frontrunners for the prize until the eve of the announcement. Alongside Malala, Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege had been among the favourites for this year`s prize.
Mukwege is a specialist in the treatment of women who have been gang-raped by rebel forces in Congo.
The $1.25 million prize will be presented in Oslo on December 10.