The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which announces its decision on October 12, said on Monday that it had received a record 259 nominations for this year’s award.
"This year’s nominations come from all over the world… well-known names, well-known presidents and prime ministers and also lesser well-known names working in humanitarian projects, human rights activists," said Norwegian Nobel Committee Director Geir Lundestad, who made the announcement.
"In recent years, some of the Nobel Peace Prizes may have been controversial but they have added to the interest of the prize," he added.
"The prize keeps gaining importance and attention," Lundestad stated.
The secretive committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t identify the nominees, but those with nomination rights sometimes publicize their picks.
Former US President Bill Clinton, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and Myanmar’s President Thein Sein are also nominees for this year’s award.
Kristian Berg Harpviken, the director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, said he believes Malala Yousafzai is the favorite to receive the prestigious prize.
On October 9, 2012, Yousafzai was shot by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in the town of Mingora for speaking out against the fanatics and promoting education for girls and women in her home region, the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
A day after she was shot, a bullet which hit Yousafzai’s skull was removed by surgeons in Peshawar. She was later transferred to a military hospital in Rawalpindi for more specialist treatment.
On October 15, Yousafzai was flown to Britain for specialist care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after Pakistani doctors said she needed treatment for a damaged skull and “intensive neuro-rehabilitation.”
She underwent successful surgery on her skull and ear in a five-hour operation at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham on February 2, and left the hospital on February 7 after her medical team decided she was well enough to be discharged.
Surgeons replaced part of Yousafzai’s skull with a titanium plate and inserted a cochlear implant in her left ear to restore her hearing.
In an interview recorded before the surgery, the teenager said, “Today you can see that I am alive. I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone and I am getting better day by day. It’s just because of the prayers of people. Because all people — men, women, children — all of them have prayed for me.
"And because of all these prayers, God has given me this new life, a second life. And I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated. For that reason, we have organized the Malala Fund."
In December 2012, Pakistan and UNESCO unveiled the Malala Plan, which aims to get all the girls in the world into school by the end of 2015.
Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, attended the ceremony where the plan was announced, along with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
In addition, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, appointed Malala’s father a UN special advisor on global education.