Washington, D.C. - Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, gave the following statement at full Committee markup of H.R. 3583, the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act.
The statement follows
I’m very pleased we had this important hearing this morning and am very proud of the role our colleague Mr. Keating has played. And thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership.
Six hundred million women around the world are illiterate, nearly twice the number of men. In rural Pakistan, only one third of women can read.
These scholarships are so important. It is important to the United States to put our money where our mouth is in helping women in Pakistan.
The overall gender disparity is even more pronounced in higher education. Only 2 countries of the 130 measured by the 2013 Millennium Development Goals Report achieved gender parity in the area and these disparities are very costly for women: they marginalize them politically, reduce their employment opportunities, and increase their vulnerability. President Obama has said that if a country is “educating its girls, if women have equal rights, that country is going to move forward. But if women are oppressed and abused and illiterate, then they’re going to fall behind.” And studies show that he is correct.
Every year of primary school boosts a girl’s future wages by10 to 20 percent, and every year of secondary school increases that earning potential by 15 to 25 percent. The World Bank’s top economist has said that financing women’s education yields the highest rate of return of any investment in the developing world. These facts alone justify the efforts of the US to promote female education worldwide.
A recent IMF study also found that if females were working in the same proportion as men, we would see a 34 percent increase in the gross domestic product of Egypt, 27 percent in India, but also a 9 percent jump in Japan and even a 5 percent increase in the U.S.
There is another compelling reason for the US to support female education around the world: educated women and girls are proving to be some of the most powerful weapons in the fight against violent extremism.
The Taliban exposed their fear of educated girls when they tried to silence Malala Yousafzai. Malala’s incredible example is a reminder that females are ready to lead all over the world when they have the opportunity to go to school. When girls and women are educated, they are better able to combat extremism in their roles as mothers, community members, teachers, and activists and simply put: the battle for hearts and minds cannot be won without the participation of educated women and girls.
That’s why this bill that we are marking up today is so important. It is clear that there are numerous tangible benefits to educating women and girls, but we must also remember the right to an education is a basic, fundamental human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
And yet, too many young girls are still stuck working at home during the school day. Too many are still being forced out of school and into early marriages.
We must ensure that promoting education for girls and women abroad remains a priority for the US. As remarkable young women like Malala have demonstrated, when education empowers women to shape their own destinies, extremism is doomed.
I am very delighted to support this legislation and support the amendments that are being brought forth to perfect this legislation. I am glad once again that we are doing so in a bipartisan way and I thank Chairman Royce and everyone who has worked so hard to bring this legislation and make it a reality. Thank you.
The text of H.R. 3583 can be found here: