Home Latest News U.S. Congress Passes Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act

U.S. Congress Passes Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. AFP

Bill requires USAID to award at least 50 percent of higher education scholarships to Pakistani women under a merit and needs-based program

The U.S. Congress has passed a bill named for Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, expanding the number of scholarships that women from Pakistan can avail under a new merit and needs-based program.

The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act was passed by the House of Representatives in March 2020, with the U.S. Senate adopting it by a voice vote on Jan. 1, 2021. It is now pending the signature of U.S. President Donald Trump to become law.

The bill requires the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to award at least 50 percent of scholarships under a Pakistan-based higher education scholarship program to Pakistani women for the next two years—from 2020 to 2022—across a range of academic disciplines, and in accordance with existing eligibility criteria.

USAID is also required to consult with, and leverage, investments by the Pakistani private sector and Pakistani diaspora in the United States to improve and expand access to education programs in Pakistan as per the norms of the bill. The agency has to brief Congress annually on the number of scholarships awarded under the program, including providing breakdowns by gender, discipline, and degree type. The percentage of recipients involuntarily pushed out of the program for failing to meet its requirements, as well as the percentage of recipients who dropped out of school including due to retaliation for seeking education, would also be calculated.

Since 2010, USAID has awarded over 6,000 scholarships to young women for higher education in Pakistan. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act expands this program.

In a posting on Twitter, Malala thanked U.S. lawmakers for passing the legislation. “Thank you Hakeem Jeffries and the U.S. Congress for passing this legislation mandating that at least 50 percent of USAID’s higher education scholarships in Pakistan will go to young women,” she said. “I’m excited to see where they lead us,” she added.

Malala gained global recognition in 2012 after the Pakistani Taliban shot her in the head while she was returning home from school in Swat. The injured girl was airlifted to the U.K. for further treatment, where she still resides. In 2014, Malala became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts for children’s rights.

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