WASHINGTON, D.C. — On November 19, the U.S. House of Representatives officially passed the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act. Named after Pakistani Nobel Laureate, Malala Yousafzai, the bill aims to expand the number of scholarships available to women in Pakistan.
The bill was introduced in the House last November by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and was recently agreed upon. On November 20, the bill was received in the Senate and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. However, it may take up to a year for a decision to be made by the Senate.
USAID’s Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship program allows students from remote areas of Pakistan to earn bachelors and masters degrees at national universities. Because women have constituted just 25 percent of recipients in recent years, the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act works to ensure that 50 percent of scholarships go to women in Pakistan.
Yousafzai has been an advocate for women’s education since she first began writing her anonymous blog at the age of 11. She was since targeted and shot in the head by the Taliban, who condemned her endorsement of female education. Yet, Yousafzai persevered through the attack, going on to write a best-selling autobiography and later to become the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at just 17 years old.
Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce said, “The situation for women in areas where access to education is actively suppressed is particularly grim. It is fitting that the legislation was named for Malala Yousafzai, who at the age of 15 dared to defy the Taliban, survived a brutal assassination attempt, and ultimately inspired a generation of women and girls to demand their fundamental right to be educated.”
“At the heart of this bill is a push to help educate women and girls; a step that pays long-term dividends that helps stabilize societies, promotes economic growth, and advances U.S. national security objectives,” said Royce.
– Meagan Douches