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Press Release

REP. JEFFRIES, SEN. SCHUMER ANNOUNCE MALALA YOUSAFZAI SCHOLARSHIP ACT ON WAY TO PRESIDENT’S DESK

NEW LAW PROMOTES EQUALITY AND OPPORTUNITY FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN IN PAKISTAN

LEGISLATION NAMED FOR THE HERO, THE NOW 22-YEAR-OLD YOUNG WOMAN SHOT BY TALIBAN AT 15 FOR PURSUING HER EDUCATION; INSPIRED THE BOOK “I AM MALALA” AND BECAME A SYMBOL OF DETERMINATION AND EQUALITY FOR BILLIONS AROUND THE WORLD

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that H.R. 4508, the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act, is on the way to the President to be signed into law. Rep. Jeffries introduced the bill in 2019 to promote access to higher education for girls in Pakistan by directing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to issue at least half of its scholarships for higher education in Pakistan under the Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program to women. 

“At home and abroad, women and girls face barriers to obtaining an education, hindering their ability to fulfill their God-given potential,” said Rep. Jeffries. “If we empower girls through education, they have the opportunity to uplift themselves, their families, neighborhoods and nations. I thank Senator Schumer for his assistance in passing this important legislation to help ensure every girl in the world can receive a quality education out of the Senate.”

“Today is an important step toward ensuring women and girls around the world have access to quality education,” said Leader Schumer. “I am proud to have worked on the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act with Congressman Jeffries and I look forward to it being signed into law, so that women and girls in Pakistan and across the globe have the opportunity to pursue the lives they want, provide for their families and contribute to their communities.” 

The bill is named for Malala Yousafzai, who in 2008 began making the case for access to education for women and girls in Pakistan despite objections from the Taliban. On October 9, 2012, Malala was on the way home when the Taliban ambushed her bus and shot her in the head. Remarkably, she survived and continued to speak out, becoming a world-renowned figure in the fight for education.  

More than 500 million adult women across the globe struggle with literacy as a result of missing out on education. In Pakistan, only 32 percent of primary school age girls are in school. The rate of higher education enrollment beyond primary and secondary school drops down to just 9 percent for girls in Pakistan. In comparison, the global average rate of higher education enrollment is 40 percent for girls.

USAID’s Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program funds full tuition and stipends for housing, textbooks and food for financially strained Pakistani youth to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree at thirty partner universities across Pakistan. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act will ensure at least half of those scholarships go to women and girls in Pakistan.  

The bill is endorsed by the Malala Fund, Amnesty International USA, CARE USA, Borgen Project, Basic Education Coalition and Plan International USA.