PESHAWAR: The United States Embassy in Pakistan Friday announced it will award an additional 700 graduate-level scholarships to Pakistani women in partnership with the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC).

These two-year scholarships, which begin this year and last until 2023, will be awarded to outstanding women to earn Master’s degrees in agriculture, business, engineering, health sciences, and social sciences. Since 2003, the United States has granted 5,300 merit- and needs-based scholarships to financially disadvantaged, but academically successful students throughout Pakistan, says a press release.

Through the partnership with the HEC, the US Agency for International Development’s Merit- and Needs-Based Scholarship Program (MNBSP) awards scholarships to academically talented and financially disadvantaged students for university study. The program targets young people from remote and rural areas of Pakistan, especially northern Sindh, Balochistan, southern Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the erstwhile Fata. Since 2013, USAID has increased the number of scholarships and allocated 50 percent of all scholarships to women to increase gender parity and access to higher education for women. Friday’s announcement brings the total of MNBSP scholarships awarded to Pakistani students to 6,000.

“These additional 700 fully-funded graduate-level scholarships will be awarded to some of the most talented Pakistani women to help meet their higher education goals,” said USAID Deputy Mission Director Michael Nehrbass.

Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, and the Executive Director of the HEC Dr Shaista Sohail thanked USAID for expanding the MNBSP and acknowledged that the investment made in women’s scholarships and their recruitment are important steps to further women’s empowerment and their access to higher education, a shared objective of HEC.

6.6m doses of Pfizer vaccine arrive

The United States has donated another 6.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Pakistan to help it mitigate the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

Taking to Twitter, the US Embassy in Islamabad announced that the tranche of the vaccines has already been shipped to Pakistan, adding that it would help the country inoculate young and at-risk citizens. The latest donation brings the total number of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the US to the Pakistani people to 15.8 million.

“The United States is the single largest contributor supporting COVAX efforts toward global COVID-19 vaccine access,” it said.

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