Yousafzai, Russian Activists Seen as Top Nobel Peace Contenders

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who took on the Taliban, and Russian human rights activists are seen as top contenders for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the International Peace Research Institute said.

Sister Mary Tarcisia Lakot is also a potential winner for her work promoting peace in Uganda, Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Oslo-based institute that ranks potential winners each year, said in a statement. Russians that may win include the “formidable, female, three-generation trio” of Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Svetlana Gannushkina and Lilya Shibanova, he said.

Yousafzai, 16, was shot in the head in Pakistan’s Swat Valley in retaliation for her campaign for girls to be given equal rights to schooling, defying threats from Taliban militants in her hometown of Mingora. She now lives in the U.K. and has since gained global recognition for her promises to continue her struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism.

“Malala would not only be timely and fitting with a line of awards to champions of human rights and democracy, but also sets both children and education on the peace and conflict agenda,” Harpviken said.

The prize, along with literature, physics and medicine honors, was created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel and first awarded in 1901. Past winners include the European Union, which won last year, as well as U.S. President Barack Obama, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa. The Norwegian Nobel Committee selects the peace prize recipient. The economics prize was instituted by the Swedish central bank.

The fourth favorite is Claudia Paz y Paz, attorney general in Guatemala, for leading charges of genocide against former President General Ríos Montt, according to PRIO. The last shortlisted candidate is the Congolese gynecologist, Denis Mukwege, who’s “a leading figure in the fight against sexual violence worldwide,” according to PRIO.

The institute’s candidate list also includes UNESCO, Nigeria’s Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Sultan of Sokoto, Mohamed Sa’ad Abubakar.

The prize winner will be announced on Oct. 11. The institute doesn’t help pick the winners.

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