Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, is a symbol for hope and rejuvenation. Especially for women, whose education have been hindered due to unfavourable circumstances, in certain parts of the world. Now her legacy will further be cemented, as a revivalist, as US Congress has approved a Scholarship Act under her name.
The US Parliament passed the “Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act” in order to increase the number of scholarships available for Pakistani women to receive higher education. The original bill was passed by the House of Representatives in March 2020, and in the final leg was passed by the US Senate through a voice vote on January 1, 2021. It now awaits for the final nod from the outgoing US President Donald Trump to become a law.
In accordance with the eligibility criteria, the bill seeks to provide at least 50 per cent of scholarships under the Pakistani based higher education scholarship programme to Pakistani women across a range of academic disciplines from the US Agency for International Development.
The bill requires USAID to consult with and leverage investments by the Pakistani private sector and Pakistanis residing in the US to improve and expand access to education programmes in Pakistan.
The bill also seeks the USAID to brief the US Congress 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 on annual basis.
In 2008, she was making the case for access to education for women and girls despite objections from the Pakistani Taliban. For that reason, in an unfortunate incident in October 2012, Malala was shot in the head by Pakistani Taliban on her way home from school. She survived the shot and pressed harder to work for women’s education.