10/23/2012 08:54 EDT | Updated 12/23/2012 05:12 EST

Nobel Peace Prize Nomination Sought For Malala Yousafzai

In this Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 photo, a Pakistani protestor holds a candle and a poster that reads, " Are you with us or the Taliban? Long live Malala Yousufzai," and showing 15-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out in support of education for women, during a candlelight vigil in Islamabad, Pakistan. Yousufzai was shot and critically wounded by the Taliban risked her life to attend school, but the threat from the militant group is just one of many obstacles Pakistani girls face in getting an education. Others include rampant poverty, harassment and the government's failure to prioritize education spending. (AP Photo/Nathalie Bardou)
Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for Malala Yousafzai, an outspoken Pakistani teenage activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban, to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yousafzai, a vocal supporter of education and schools for girls, was shot two weeks ago in Mingora, a town located in Pakistan's Swat Valley. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the 15-year-old, who was shot on her way home from school.

More than 20,000 people, including interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae, have digitally signed the petition on

"I am nominating Malala Yusufzai for the Nobel Peace Prize. We need to do all possible to champion this brave advocate for equality," Rae said Tuesday on Twitter.

Rae's support helps the campaign, as Nobel Peace Prize regulations place requirements on who can submit a nomination. Rae, as a member of Canada's Parliament, is eligible to make a nomination, as are members of international courts, some academics, people who have previously been awarded the peace prize and others.

Petition seeks support from all party leaders

The petition, which was launched by author and commentator Tarek Fatah, calls on all leaders of Canadian political parties to pledge their support.

"To make a major statement and to show that Canadians believe in Malala's work, we need all Canadian political party leaders to unanimously nominate Malala for the Nobel Peace Prize for her incredible work and bravery," the petition says.

After the targeted shooting, the teenager was transferred by air to hospital in Peshawar. She was later transferred to a hospital in the United Kingdom, where a doctor expressed optimism about her recovery.

The petition, which was started on Saturday, says that a peace prize nomination would "send a clear message that the world is watching and will support those who stand up for gender equality and universal human rights that includes the right of education for girls."

The five-person Norwegian Nobel Committee selects the laureates. According to the Nobel Prize website, the Nobel committee readies itself to receive nominations in September, with the final deadline for submissions at the beginning of February.

The 2012 peace prize went to the European Union, for years of contributions to the advancement of peace, democracy and human rights in Europe. In 2011, the committee awarded the prize to three women — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman — in recognition of their work for peace and women's rights.

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