Nearly 90,000 people have signed a petition pushing for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old who was shot by the Taliban while campaigning for girls' education in Pakistan.
"Malala doesn't just represent one young woman, she speaks out for all those who are denied an education purely on the basis of their gender," said Shahida Choudhary, the British woman who set up the petition on Change.org. Some of the Web site's top petitions have hundreds of thousands or millions of supporters.
Choudhary was born in Britain, but was taken out of school, sent to Pakistan and forced into marriage when she was 16.
"I was trapped, afraid of what would happen to me if I resisted. Eventually, I managed to escape back to the UK and when I was 28 I was finally able return to education, but I still think about the years I missed. I also think about all the other girls in our communities today who are in the same situation. I know there are girls like Malala here in the UK," she wrote on her petition profile.
Malala's father said she was "humbled" by the support from around the world, according to the BBC.
The petition comes ahead of a planned "Global Day of Action" in Malala's name Saturday, organized by the U.N. special envoy for education, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and aimed at raising awareness of girls' education worldwide.
The 15-year-old was shot in the head on her school bus last month by militants in Pakistan after spending years as a prominent young advocate for literacy and peace. A Pakistani ambassador recently said she is making a steady recovery and is starting to walk, talk and read.
Mullah Fazlullah, the mastermind of the attack, has escaped retribution by hiding in a part of eastern Afghanistan where U.S. forces are spread thin and focused on other targets, The Washington Post's Dana Priest reported.
If she became a Nobel laureate, Malala would be the youngest ever by nearly 10 years: So far, the youngest has been William Lawrence Bragg, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915 at age 25 for "services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays."