Foreign Affairs Committee Passes Legislation Expanding Scholarships for Women in Pakistan

Apr 3, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), passed H.R. 3583, the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act, as amended.  The legislation, authored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), expands the number of scholarships available to Pakistani women under the Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program. 

Today’s vote follows this morning’s Committee hearing entitled “Women’s Education: Promoting Development, Countering Radicalism,” which examined how the education of women in countries prone to violent extremism can create economic opportunities and help counter the spread of radicalism. 

A summary of the Committee action, including adopted amendments, is available HERE

During today’s markup Chairman Royce said“We just heard today how even a modest investment in educating women and girls in the developing world – and in areas beset by poverty and radicalism in particular – can pay long-term dividends that help stabilize societies, promote economic growth, and advance U.S. national security objectives.  That is why HR 3583 is important.  I want to thank Chairman Emeritus Ros-Lehtinen for her leadership on this issue.

“I have for years expressed concern about the appalling state of education in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the subsequent rise of deobandi schools that prey upon the disenfranchised and breed radicalism. 

“The situation for women in areas where access to education is actively suppressed is particularly grim.  In Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, for example, literacy among women is between just three and eight percent.

“It’s fitting that the bill before us would be named for Malala Yousafzai – who at the age of fifteen dared to defy the Taliban, was brutally assaulted for her efforts, and ultimately inspired a generation of women and girls to demand their fundamental right to be educated.    

“H.R. 3583 requires USAID to award at least half of the scholarships made available through its existing Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program in Pakistan to women.  It adds no new money to the program.  It simply provides support and policy guidance.  

“I am particularly pleased that the Substitute Amendment contains language emphasizing the importance of consulting with and leveraging investments by the private sector and Pakistani diaspora communities in the United States.  Tapping into this vast pool of expertise and resources will prove invaluable.

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