The U.S. Congress passed the ‘Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act’ to increase the number of Pakistani women who avail merit and needs-based scholarships to receive higher education under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programme. The Act is named after the Pakistani Nobel Prize winner and female education activist Malala Yousafzai.
The House of Representatives passed the bill in March 2020 and by the United States Senate by a voice vote on January 1. The bill now heads to the White House for U.S. President Donald Trump to sign into law.
Furthermore, the bill requires USAID 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 programmes in Pakistan.
USAID now, according to the Act, will award at least 50% of scholarships under a Pakistan-based higher education scholarship programme to Pakistani women, from 2020 to 2022, across a range of academic disciplines, following existing eligibility criteria.
Among other things, it requires USAID to brief Congress annually on the number of scholarships awarded under the programme, including breakdowns by gender, discipline, and degree type; the percentage of recipients who were involuntarily pushed out of the programme for failure to meet programme requirements; and the percentage of recipients who dropped out of school, including due to retaliation for seeking education.
Since 2010, the USAID has awarded more than 6,000 scholarships for young women to receive higher education in Pakistan. The bill expands this programme.