Gifffords is to receive the award, given annually by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, in recognition of the "political, personal, and physical courage she has demonstrated in her fearless public advocacy for policy reforms aimed at reducing gun violence," the foundation announced on Friday.
The award, named for President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Profiles in Courage," is to be presented to Giffords by foundation president Caroline Kennedy at a ceremony in Boston on May 5.
Giffords, a Democrat, was shot in the head when a gunman opened fire on a congressional outreach event in Tucson in January 2011, killing six people and wounding a dozen others. She resigned from Congress a year after the shooting to focus on her recovery.
Following the attack that killed 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school in December, Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, founded a lobby group aimed at curbing gun violence and challenging the political clout of the well-funded gun lobby.
"Instead of retreating following the tragic shooting that ended her Congressional career, she has recommitted herself to fighting for a more peaceful society free from hate and violence. She is a true Profile in Courage," Caroline Kennedy said in a statement released by the foundation.
In a Tweet on Friday, Giffords thanked both Caroline Kennedy and the foundation: "Wow! So proud about the Profile in Courage Award. President Kennedy's book is a favorite of mine."
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Gary Hill)