Posts

Education for Girls in PakistanIn April 2018, a school will open that is focused on improving education for girls in Pakistan of all grades. Thanks to the Malala Fund and the Big Heart Foundation’s Girl’s Child Fund, this school will serve approximately 330 girls with the expectation to increase gradually to 1,000 students.

Farah Mohamed, CEO of the Malala Fund, and Mariam Al Hammadi, the Director of the Big Heart Foundation, signed an agreement regarding the school in Oxford, London. In attendance at the signing was Malala Yousafzai and Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, the Big Heart Foundation’s Humanitarian Envoy.

Financing for the School

The Big Heart Foundation donated $70,000 to the school and agreed to pay for the school’s operational needs such as medical, security expenses, transportation, uniforms, staff salary and books. The Big Heart Foundation plans to finance the school’s first two years with these funds. The school will be located in Swat Valley, which is the hometown of Malala Yousafzai, the founder of the Malala Fund.

Malala Yousafzai commented on the donation, saying, “I overwhelming thank the Big Heart Foundation for believing in my dream of a world where girls can choose their own future path. With their support, the Malala Fund can provide education for girls in my hometown, Swat Valley in Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s Education System

The creation of this school is a small but essential step in improving tragically low literacy and education levels in Pakistan’s lagging school system. As of 2015, there were about 3,309,514 young girls not enrolled in school. This does not include the other 2,902,032 adolescent women who were also not enrolled. In 2014, the illiterate population for women who were 15 and older was over 32,000,000.

Pakistan’s primary education school has been characterized as one of the most underdeveloped programs. Only 60 percent of its children complete their education through the fifth grade, while the others drop out for various reasons. Additionally, only 8 percent of Pakistan’s population has the qualifying grades to receive a tertiary education.

The Contributors

The Big Heart Foundation was created in May of 2015 by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bin Mohammed Al Qasimi. The organization’s goal is to provide needed humanitarian support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its primary aim is to help vulnerable families and children who live outside of the UAE, such as Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and others. It hopes to provide safe and secure environments to families and children in need, help increase the cooperation between local and regional government and help improve financial support.

The Malala Fund was founded in 2013 by Malala Yousafzai along with her father. This organization campaigns the idea that every girl has the right to 12 years of free and safe education. It believes that “girls are the best investment in future peace and prosperity of our world.”

Thanks to these two important organizations, in the near future, education for girls in Pakistan will finally be provided. Though education for girls in Pakistan is in dire need of improvement, this school is a vital, beneficial and necessary step.

– Cassidy Dyce

Photo: Flickr

State of Emergency for EducationEarlier this month, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai visited Nigeria and met with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to discuss the changes she envisions for Nigeria’s education system. Additionally, she has declared “a state of emergency for education in Nigeria.”

While Nigeria is one of Africa’s wealthier nations, it also has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. In fact, 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school, 60 percent of them girls, according to the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF). Many of these children live in the country’s northeast region, particularly in the Boko Haram hub of Maiduguri, in which education has been under attack for the past nine years.

Boko Haram destroyed the classrooms and schools in the area. Most notably, the group is responsible for the abduction of more than 200 girls from their school in the remote town of Chibok in April 2014. This prompted international outrage and the #BringBackOurGirls movement, for which Malala herself campaigned online. Of the abducted girls, only 106 were released, rescued or escaped after more than three years in captivity. The other 113 are still in custody of the extremist group. As a long-time advocate for girls’ education, especially in war torn areas, Malala is the perfect spokesperson for the state of emergency for education in Nigeria.

In an op-ed in The Guardian, Malala detailed her visit to Maiduguri and the girls she met there “who have faced so much violence and fear in their young lives but are still determined to go to school.”

“Studies are clear,” she says in another interview, ”educating girls grows economies, reduces conflict, and improves public health.” The percentage of Nigeria’s budget for education decreased from 9 percent to 6 percent since her last visit to Nigeria in 2014. Meanwhile, the international benchmark for education spending is 20 percent of a country’s overall budget. In her meeting with President Osinbajo, she outlined several necessary key changes including declaring a “state of emergency for education” to focus attention on the education of Nigerian children.

She also suggested that Nigeria make school funding public and triple its education budget. She emphasized that the country should implement the Child Rights Act in all states. Her main goal is to raise awareness of unenrolled children in Nigeria and to highlight the fact that if Nigeria makes education a priority, it has the material means to make vast improvements.

Nigeria is in a state of emergency for education. Across West Africa, 46 percent of primary school-aged children out of school are Nigerian. Globally, one in five children not enrolled in school is Nigerian. During the Boko Haram insurgency which began in 2009, the group killed 2,295 teachers and destroyed almost 1,400 schools, displacing over 19,000 people.

Organizations such as UNICEF work closely with the Nigerian government to decrease these worrying statistics, especially in northeastern Nigeria. More than 525,000 children enrolled in school this year alone, while the country established over 37 temporary learning spaces. Relief organizations distributed about 92,000 packs of learning materials to help children continue their educations in areas especially vulnerable to attack.

Advocates like Malala are important in creating change because they put new international spotlights and pressure on governments to reprioritize education. Time will tell if the changes she envisions for schoolchildren in Nigeria come to pass. Continued advocacy work around this issue is important to ensure that a generation of schoolchildren does not fall behind.

Saru Duckworth

Photo: Flickr


Women in developing countries are one of the most vulnerable and oppressed groups in the world. But even in the face of challenges such as disproportionate violence, child marriages, teenage pregnancy and minimal education, many women are fighting back. The Borgen Project highlights five powerful women in poor countries who are asserting their power against fierce adversity.

  1. Malala Yousafzai
    This international icon has been an inspiration to girls everywhere since she survived a Taliban attack in 2012. The Pakistani teenager was targeted by the extremist group for her advocacy in support of girls’ education rights. Since her miraculous recovery, Yousafzai has continued her fight against gender inequality by founding the Malala Fund. This organization advocates for and invests in girls’ education in the poorest and most unequal countries in the world. At age 17, she became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Her story of resistance has made her one of the most powerful women in poor countries.
  2. Eqbal Dauqan
    This Yemeni scientist is breaking cultural barriers and scientific boundaries despite hardship and discrimination. Like Malala, she has been physically attacked for defiance of her culture’s strict gender roles. She was forced to flee to Malaysia from the civil war in her native Yemen. In the face of these extreme obstacles, Dauqan has managed to become an awarded chemist. In a country where many women need a man’s permission to leave the house, Dauqan earned a college degree and a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She has gone on to publish a popular book, earn international awards for her scientific contributions and be named assistant professor and head of her department at Al Saeed University. It is no wonder that NPR calls her “unstoppable.”
  3. Majd Al-Asharawy
    This Palestinian inventor created Green Cake, a revolutionary new building block made from ashes. In her war-torn home of Gaza, resources are limited and many buildings are in ruins. Al-Asharawy researched for six months to develop her special brick out of the resources available in Gaza. Green Cake is environmentally friendly and fire-resistant, weighs half what a concrete block does and costs half the price. This inspiring young inventor is yet another woman utilizing her limited resources to revolutionize the world around her.
  4. Ishita Sharma
    India is one of the most rapidly improving countries in the developing world, but gender equality in the country is not up to pace. Ninety-two women are raped in India every day. After being harassed by men on the street, Sharma teamed up with a kung fu coach to offer free self-defense classes to underprivileged girls. By working with parents and teachers in the girls’ communities, she has built up a small army of girls with the skills and confidence to defend themselves. Sharma is helping to equip more powerful women in poor countries to stand up to violence and sexual harassment.
  5. Drukpa Order “Kung Fu” Nuns
    In Southeast Asia, the human trafficking of young girls is rampant. Five hundred Buddhist nuns from India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet are fighting this practice through a 4,000-kilometer bike trip. For the fourth time, the nuns biked from Kathmandu to Leh, India to raise awareness of human trafficking and promote messages of gender equality. Along the way, they met with local officials, provided food to poor communities and helped marginalized people access medical care. They are even trained in martial arts to defend themselves against male harassment. These powerful women in poor countries are blazing a new trail for girls in Southeast Asia.

There is still a lot of work to be done by the international community and local governments to support gender equality in the developing world. But these powerful women in poor countries are proving that they are far from powerless.

Bret Anne Serbin

Photo: Flickr


Malala Yousafzai, the world’s youngest and most powerful champion for girls’ education, may soon be attending one of the most prestigious schools in the world: the University of Oxford. Back in March of this year, Yousafzai announced that she had received a conditional offer (based on her A Level grades) from Oxford and that she plans to attend the University. She plans to study philosophy, politics and economics (PPE), and work on her organization, the Malala Fund. To commemorate this outstanding individual, here are 12 facts about her life, her achievements and her organization.

12 Facts About Malala Yousafzai

  1. At the young age of 12, when her hometown of Swat was held by the Taliban in 2009, Yousafzai wrote for a BBC blog critiquing the hardline Islamic movement under a pseudonym, even while she and her father were receiving multiple death threats.
  2. Yousafzai was the first recipient of Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.
  3. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a world-renowned social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, nominated Malala Yousafzai for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011.
  4. Yousafzai was an international figure by now, and Taliban leaders voted among themselves to kill her. On October 9, 2012, Malala’s school bus was attacked by a gunman. He broke through the door and demanded to know where Yousafzai was. When some of the girls looked her way, she was shot in the head.
  5. Miraculously, the 15-year-old survived the attack. She was flown to Birmingham, U.K., for treatment. Her attack was condemned worldwide, and, after protests in Pakistan, more than 2 million people signed a right to education petition. The petition became a bill later ratified by the National Assembly, making it Pakistan’s first Right To Free and Compulsory Education Bill.
  6. In 2013, Yousafzai and her father co-founded the Malala Fund, an organization that advocates at all political levels to ensure all girls complete 12 years of school.
  7. The Malala Fund currently has programs in Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria and in various countries for Syrian refugees.
  8. In Pakistan, a country with the second-largest number of girls not in school, the program focuses on getting more girls in school, building schools, providing materials (books, uniforms, etc.) and grants for secondary schooling.
  9. In Kenya, a country quickly evolving into its digital era, the Malala Fund works to ensure girls can take advantage of the technology trend.
  10. In Nigeria, the organization helps girls who have escaped from Boko Haram get an education.
  11. For Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, the organization opens new schools and funds educational programs in safe refugee camps.
  12. In October 2014, Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. At age 17, she is the award’s youngest recipient.

<

As Yousafzai continues to push for girls’ education around the globe, we should follow in her footsteps and do what we can do alleviate global poverty and ensure global education.

James Hardison

Photo: Flickr

Malala Yousafzai is a brave Pakistani advocate for young women’s education and the youngest ever Nobel laureate. An attempt was made on her life when she was shot in the head by militants, and she has faced many other obstacles. Yousafzai is one among hundreds of advocates around the world fighting for women’s education. More than 63 million girls are still not enrolled in school, and fewer than 10 percent of teenage girls finish secondary school. Here are five more outstanding advocates for women’s education.

  1. Neelam Ibrar Chattan
    Chattan has advocated for peace for young women in Pakistan since she was a teenager. She grew up in the same town as Yousafzai. While Yousafzai was being attacked, and the Taliban were taking over Pakistan, Chattan launched a campaign called Peace for a New Generation, promoting education and extracurricular activities for girls and boys. Even though she and her family face various threats, she remains fearless in helping children and young adults get the education they need.
  2. Michelle Obama
    The former First Lady, along with her husband, former President Barack Obama, launched the Let Girls Learn organization in March 2015. The organization works with communities and leaders of third-world countries to promote girls’ education. She has also visited Africa and raised $27 million in funding for young women’s education in Liberia. Michelle Obama hopes that more people will continue fighting for young women’s education.
  3. Graca Machel
    Machel has fought not only for young women’s education, but also against childhood marriage. She acknowledged that women and children “pay the highest prices” from war in Nigeria. Her hard work has led to the Graca Machel Trust.
  4. Angelique Kidjo
    A Grammy-nominated West African singer and songwriter, Kidjo is also a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and the founder of the Batonga Foundation. She uses her talents as a singer and her passion for young women’s education to effect important change. She continues to work with the Batonga Foundation, supporting secondary and higher education for girls in Africa by improving school infrastructure, increasing enrollment, granting scholarships, providing financial support for families, and spreading community awareness.
  5. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
    As the first female president in an African country, Liberian President Sirleaf has been a huge supporter of general women’s rights, including women’s right to vote and women’s right to education. She has used her power to expand the quality of education in preschool and primary education by joining the Global Partnership for Education in 2007. Despite dealing with the Ebola crisis in 2015, she worked hard to reopen schools and provide quality education for all students.

In the face of widespread and systemic adversity, millions of women around the world do not have education as a birthright. These five advocates of women’s education are advancing an agenda of equality that will empower and uplift communities forever.

Emma Majewski

Photo: Flickr

Malala Yousafzai

In 2012, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot three times by the Taliban because she was fighting for her right to attend school. Three years later, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner is creating a social movement through her activism regarding global education.

Now 18 years old, Yousafzai has called on the United States and other leading powers to devote more of their foreign policy to educational opportunities for needy children around the world.

“World leaders…are only focusing on six years of education, or nine years,” she said at a panel event co-hosted by Foreign Policy, Vital Voices, and the Malala Fund at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington. “This is not how we are going to achieve success in our future. It is necessary we provide 12 years of quality education to every child.”

Around the world, 57 million children of primary school age do not attend school, with half of these children living in sub-Saharan Africa. Out of these children, 54 percent who do not attend primary school are girls.

Yousafzai argues that leading world powers spend too much on their military forces and should promote, “Books, not bullets. Books, not bombs.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense archives, $663 billion of the U.S. budget goes towards the military while a mere 0.1 percent is used for foreign aid, including global education.

As Yousafzai continues her global activism and promotion of the Malala Fund, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is finishing her high school education in England because she is afraid the Taliban will kill her if she tries returning to Pakistan.

While finishing school is her top priority, the activist also has a documentary being released on October 2. The documentary “He Named Me Malala” will follow Yousafzai’s life as she completes schoolwork, visits schoolgirls in Nigeria, and viewers will even have the opportunity to see the aftermath of the gunshot injuries as she undergoes surgery and physical therapy.

“I made a choice not to tell the global political story,” said film director Davis Guggenheim during the Q&A after the Telluride Film Festival screening. “As a father of two daughters, I wanted to tell the story of… why did this amazing girl happen?”

As the documentary’s release date to the public approaches, there are high hopes that the film will start a conversation and make a lasting impact on the current state of global education.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: BMZ, Fast Coexist, Foreign Policy, Los Angeles Times

Photo: Flickr

 

Malala-Poverty-is-Sexist-ONE-Campaignjpg
“We Can Do It!” Rosie the Riveter’s confident call to action and iconic pose continues to empower women. The ONE campaign, a poverty advocacy group, has adopted this traditional pose to fight for equality in a new way. Grinning girls bare their biceps appear across the site, using the hashtag #WithStrongGirls to demonstrate support for the women in poverty. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai joins the ranks of women and girls posting these “strengthies” worldwide. The social media campaign works alongside a petition calling upon world leaders to prioritize the advancement of women in efforts to end global poverty.

As the campaign explains, “poverty is sexist.” ONE’s 2015 data report explains the significant disparity in quality of life based on gender, citing maternal morality, domestic violence, gaps in wages and education and poor representation in government. These are among the many disadvantages women, particularly women in poverty, face. Each day, 39,000 girls become child brides, 1 in every 217 childbirths leads to the mother’s death in least developed countries (LDCs) and 45 percent of worldwide maternal mortality occurs within the world’s poorest 13 percent of women living in LDCs. Life in extreme poverty is horrifying. For women, these horrors multiply.

While poverty affects women more severely than men, relief for women does not exclude men. Efforts in health and education will allow progress not only for women and girls, but also for the broader movement to end global poverty. As the report explains, educating the world’s poor, including often-excluded women, could reduce extreme poverty by 12 percent, and increasing efforts for the health of women and children “could yield a nine times return in economic and social benefits.” Introducing educated women to the workforce and reducing the current 10-30 percent wage gap in many poor nations can increase agricultural yield and create more consumers and participating members of society. According to ONE’s report, “Over the coming decade 1 billion women are poised to enter the global economy.” This kind of growth does not merely benefit women; the broader economy will see vast advancements.

These significant improvements are far from unattainable; ONE is not the only campaign to realize that the dialogue about extreme poverty needs to focus on women. The social media campaign and report anticipate a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to replace the Millennial Development Goals. The United Nations announced in March 2015 that women must be a focus of humanitarian efforts. The UN called for a focus on gender-based statistics, citing a need to better incorporate gender inequality into economic discussion.

The World Bank echoes this sentiment. A $65 million loan to Zambia’s Girls’ Educations and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods Project will aid 75,000 women and 14,000 adolescent girls in pursuing secondary education and gaining economic independence. It will also aid governmental systems to further these efforts. With fewer than 10 percent of poor rural girls in Africa currently finishing secondary school, such programs hope to improve both the quality of life of girls who otherwise would not have access to education, and also the broader infrastructures responsible.

By extending this issue from the realm of non-profits and governmental organizations to Facebook and Twitter, ONE is helping to catch the attention of people worldwide. Isolating issues of sexism in health and education is impossible; women in poverty must be a primary focus. Likewise, poverty is not a conversation exclusive to conference rooms and offices. Poverty is sexist, but merely by including women worldwide in the dialogue, progress towards equality and the end of global poverty is underway. By standing #WithStrongGirls, women (and men) can also help stand for those who do not yet have the opportunity to do so for themselves.

– Zoey Dorman

Sources: Poverty Is Sexist Report, ONE, World Bank, UN Women
Photo: Brit+Co

Let Girls Learn

Let Girls Learn is a new U.S. government initiative aiming to help young girls across the globe receive an education. It recruits Peace Corps Volunteers—American volunteers who spend two years in developing countries addressing such issues as health care, infrastructure, agriculture and education—to work on community-centered projects around the world. These projects are designed to facilitate adolescent girls’ access to educational opportunities with direct help from federal funds. They consist of things like girls’ leadership camps and mentoring programs.

The Let Girls Learn initiative was inspired by a 2013 meeting with Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager whose powerful activism for girls’ education recently won her a Nobel Peace Prize. With approximately 62 million girls out of school around the world, and educational access growing scarcer for older girls, the government initiative is aiming to help adolescent girls receive the education they deserve.

An important way that Let Girls Learn is improving girls’ educational access is by combating early marriage and child pregnancy. In the developing world, one out of seven girls are married before the age of 15. Early marriage and childbirth too often signal the end of an adolescent girl’s education. However, girls who have received secondary school training are up to six times less likely to marry at a young age compared to girls who have not received such schooling.

In keeping with the Let Girls Learn initiative, USAID campaigns like the Advancing Youth Project and Best Schools for Girls are helping individual girls in countries like Bangladesh and Liberia overcome obstacles that would otherwise hinder their schooling. USAID encourages students, parents, educators and government officials in communities with high child marriage rates to encourage community-wide pledges against child marriage, and to discourage students from dropping out of school in order to marry. The organization has also developed a mobile tool that helps girls acquire English language skills as a means of improving their employment opportunities within the garment sector, which employs more than 4 million people in Bangladesh—90 percent of whom are women.

First Lady Michelle Obama recently embarked on a five-day journey in Asia, without the president or her daughters, to promote the global education initiative. In Japan, she joined Mrs. Akie Abe, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in order to formally announce the partnership between the United States and Japan in promoting girls’ education throughout the world. The partnership is between the U.S. Peace Corps and Japan’s International Cooperation Agency. In Tokyo, the first lady described the problem as “truly a crisis” and cited attitudes toward women as a heavily contributing factor to the worldwide failure to educate young girls. She also traveled to Cambodia, where she met with a number of Peace Corps volunteers who are currently working on projects meant to increase girls’ educational access, and visited a special school that is encouraging notable progress.

Mrs. Obama plans to ask leaders in other countries around the world to stand up for the Let Girls Learn initiative, fostering an international environment that will ultimately prove more support for girls’ educational and personal successes.

Shenel Ozisik

Sources: Bloomberg, NBC News, USAID
Photo: JetMag

malala
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist who in 2012 survived gunshots during a Taliban assassination attempt, met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to urge him to meet with the parents of recently kidnapped schoolgirls.

Since the age of 11, Malala has advocated for girls’ education, which led to the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. When they tried to assassinate her in 2012 — when she was just 15 years old — they failed.

As a result, Malala dedicated her life to activism, spreading a message on the importance of education and urging political leaders to help young women in need.

Malala therefore felt deeply concerned about the 276 girls abducted from a secondary school by Boko Haram in Chibok, a region of northeast Nigeria. The girls were abducted on April 14, and 219 of them are still missing.

In a recent video, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, announced that he would only release the girls if the Nigerian government released imprisoned Boko Haram fighters. In the video, Shekau also greeted Al Qaeda and other prominent terrorist leaders across the Middle East, and denounced democracy and all forms of Western education.

He ended the video by firing an AK-47 rifle into the air in a show of violence.

“Nigerians are saying ‘bring back our girls’ and we are telling [President Jonathan] to bring back our arrested warriors, our army,” Shekau said.

Malala spent July 14, a date designated international “Malala Day” by the United Nations, visiting with the Nigerian President, urging him to do everything in his power to free the girls captured by the Boko Haram militant group.

“As we celebrate Malala Day on July 14, I have both hope and heartbreak,” Malala said. “I did not think that, just one year after my U.N. speech, more than 200 girls would be kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram simply for wanting to go to school. These girls are my sisters.”

During Malala’s meeting, President Jonathan agreed to meet with the parents of the abducted schoolgirls. He also promised scholarships to all of them once they were released.

“The president has expressed his solidarity with those girls and his sadness,” Malala said. “He has assured that these girls will come back home safely.”

She went on to say that the president is currently considering the safest option to bring them home.

Malala cited over 66 million girls lacking access to education worldwide. She blames the lack of education on the large numbers of child brides in her home country of Pakistan. She feels that if young women are allowed to go to school and given more opportunities, they will not so readily relinquish their youth and freedom.

“I know education is what separates a girl who is trapped in a cycle of poverty, fear, and violence from one with a chance at a better future,” Malala said.

In recent weeks, Nigerian officials have hinted at progress in planning a rescue mission for the captured girls. But, according to a recent statement released by President Jonathan, the Nigerian government refuses to make any negotiations with Boko Haram.

Some feel this may be a dangerous tactic, since Shekau has openly taken credit for at least two recent bombings of Nigerian cities.

No matter what the Nigerian government plans to do, Malala has hope that everything will work out for the captive girls.

“We raise our voices so that those without a voice can be heard. We pledge not to forget the voiceless. Not to get tired of calling for the creation of a world that we want to live in,” Malala wrote. “Not to lose hope, and not to stop caring.”

Paige Fraizer

Sources: Biography.com, LA Times, Liberty Voice, The International News, Washington Post
Photo: CCTV

malala_yousafzai_womens_education_rights
In recent days, U.S. Senator Ed Royce (CA-R) announced that on April 3 the Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Women’s education in violence prone countries and how it can promote the creation of economic opportunities and counter radicalism. The hearing will count with the presence of three experts on women’s education. In the words of Royce, the aim of the hearing is to assess “how a failure to appreciate its importance can result in missed opportunities for development and counter-radicalism.”

In the last three decades education opportunities have been greatly expanded, yet women are still at a disadvantage. The difference in countries like Pakistan can be as much as 30 points. While 70 percent of men over 15 years of age are considered literate, for women this only reaches 40 percent. In Afghanistan, this difference is even more astonishing where only 13 percent of women can read and write.

According to Royce, the hearing will reinforce the correlation between women and girl’s education and the promotion of economic growth, childhood development and an increase in life expectancy overall. There is strong evidence that connects women’s education and an increase in a country’s GDP. As women enter the labor force they increase the earning potential of their family. Moreover, as women tend to spend their income on children more than men, this helps increase a child’s survival more than twenty times than families supported only by men.

Pakistan is of special interest, which is why, after the hearing, the committee will move on to considering the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act (H.R. 3583). In honor of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Malala Yousafzai, this bill would require that 50 percent of the scholarships awarded under it be given to Pakistani women.

This comes at the same time when private donors have pledged to donate 1 billion to Pakistan for the support of educational programs over the next three years. According the former prime minister and now UN special envoy for education Gordon Brown, the goal is to provide education to 55 million Pakistanis over the age of ten who are considered illiterate. Pakistan’s government also wants to dedicate more resources to education in order to eventually achieve universal education. This is good news for women and girls in Pakistan, since one of the major goals of the pledge is to get a step closer to the eradication of child marriage, child labor, and gender discrimination.

– Sahar Abi Hassan

Sources: House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Brown, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Photo: Glamour