The U.S. government announced 500 new scholarships to Pakistani university students from flood-affected districts to assist them in completing their degrees. U.S. Ambassador Donald Blome announced the scholarships at an event celebrating the achievements of female scholars in honor of International Women’s Day at the Higher Education Commission in Islamabad.
Present at the event were Federal Minister of Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lieutenant General Inam Haider Malik, Higher Education Commission Executive Director Dr. Shaista Sohail, USAID Mission Director Reed Aeschliman, university vice chancellors, students, and alumni.
The United States, through USAID, has supported scholarships for meritorious yet financially disadvantaged students to pursue higher education at top Pakistani universities. In partnership with the Higher Education Commission, the U.S. government has awarded over 6,000 scholarships through the Merit and Needs Based Scholarship Program. Sixty percent of those scholarships have been awarded to women as part of the U.S. government’s support for women’s higher education.
“International Women’s Day not only serves as a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements made by our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters. It is also a call to action to accelerate gender parity and to dismantle gender stereotypes”, said Ambassador Blome.
HEC Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed remarked, “U.S. government support to strategic sectors in Pakistan, especially the higher education sector, is commendable. Not only have these scholarships helped secure university education for many underprivileged students, lifting themselves and their families out of poverty, they have helped supply Pakistan with crucial skills and knowledge sets to drive the economy.”
Federal Minister of Planning Ahsan Iqbal said, “Pakistan has suffered from catastrophic floods where millions of people lost their homes and livelihoods. The humanitarian response by the United States and other donors is commendable. We welcome U.S. support for flood-affected students.”
Jennifer Andleeb, a scholarship alumna, shared the challenges she faced in attaining higher education and how this scholarship transformed the trajectory of her life. She emphasized that positive changes in society could only happen by investing in education, and that empowered, educated women are critical to ensuring a brighter future for Pakistan.