A Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for championing girls' right to education is widely tipped to receive the world's top peace award later.

Malala Yousafzai is among the favourites to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, with the winner due to be announced by the Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway.

The award process is shrouded in secrecy and nominations cannot be published for 50 years, but a global campaign petitioning for Malala to be short-listed attracted more than half a million signatures.

Yesterday, the teenager was awarded the European Union's highest human rights honour, the Sakharov Award, whose previous recipients have included past Nobel prize winners the former South African president Nelson Mandela and Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi.

Malala, 16, has earned plaudits across the world for her bravery and determination since recovering from a failed assassination attempt by the Pakistani Taliban in October last year in which she was shot in the head as she travelled with classmates on a school bus.

Only because of prompt medical treatment in Pakistan and later, following an emergency airlift, by medics at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham did she survive the attack.

Since the age of 11, Malala has campaigned for the right to education for girls in her country - something the Taliban has strongly opposed.

Despite the attempt on her life, she has continued to champion children's access to the classroom.

Following further medical treatment and major surgery in her adoptive home in Birmingham, she recovered enough to speak at the United Nations in New York in July and was feted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for her tireless work in the face of adversity.

He called her "our hero, our champion".

She later gave a keynote speech to the UN's youth assembly in which she called on world leaders to fight terror and extremism, not with arms, but with "books and pens".

Malala said: "The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them.

"They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them."

Her book, I Am Malala, released earlier this week, is already a bestseller, and later this month she is set to meet the Queen after being invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace.