U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement on today's passage of H.R. 3583 -- the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act, which expands the number of scholarships available to Pakistani women -- at a full committee mark up. Ros-Lehtinen introduced the bill along with Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Nita Lowey (D-NY). Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"I'm pleased that my colleagues supported this important bill which mandates that at least 50 percent of educational scholarships in Pakistan go to women. This will help to empower many women who otherwise would not have been able to get an education, and counter violent extremism espoused by groups such as the Taliban. We must honor the work of leaders like Malala and others advocating for moderation and inclusion, not only because it's the right thing to do, but also to help young women improve their livelihood."
At the mark up, Ros-Lehtinen said:
"Mr. Chairman, thank you so very much for holding this mark up on this an important issue.
H.R. 3583 is a bipartisan measure and the House companion of Senate Bill 120 -- sponsored by Senator Boxer. This bill will mandate that USAID award at least 50 percent of scholarships to women in Pakistan under the Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program from 2014 to 2016.
I would also like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, as well my good friend Mr. Engel for making the bill stronger and more efficient. I would also like to offer my support to the amendment offered by my good friend and former Senate staffer -- Mr. Connolly from Virginia -- requiring USAID to look at the number of women participants who have dropped out of the program due to retaliation.
This issue is very near and dear to my heart as one of the few women on this committee and as someone with a background in education. Having been a Florida certified teacher, I know firsthand the importance of education for our youth.
And we have seen that greater access to education for women leads to increased respect for human rights, a rise in prosperity and well being, and a more peaceful and stable society. Stories like those of Malala -- who defied the brutal Taliban and became an inspiration for young people worldwide.
Education is the most important factor in empowering young girls to become successful members of society and protecting them from the ignorance that enables abuse and radicalization.
Thank you so very much, Mr. Chairman, for this markup. Thank you, Mr. Engel as well."