She was given the RAW in WAR Anna Politkovskaya Award, named after the Russian investigative journalist who was shot dead seven years ago next Monday.
Malala is also among the favourites for the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced on October 11.
The 16-year-old was presented with the award in London and said she hoped she could be "as brave as (Politkovskaya) was".
"I greatly admire Anna's dedication to truth, to equality, and to humanity," Malala added.
The award was presented by the so-called "British Schindler", Nicholas Winton, now 104, who in 1939 saved the lives of more than 600 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia as World War II was about to start.
As well as being a frontrunner for the Nobel, Malala has also been shortlisted for the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov human rights prize.
Malala was flown to Birmingham in central England following the shooting, where surgeons have rebuilt her skull.
She attends school in the city, which has a substantial population of Pakistani heritage.
Her autobiography, "I Am Malala" is published in Britain and the United States on Tuesday, the eve of the anniversary of the attack on her as she travelled in a school bus.
RAW in WAR promotes women who have defended human rights. Last year's winner was Marie Colvin, the journalist with British newspaper The Sunday Times, who was killed covering the Syrian conflict.