WASHINGTON  - Two top American Senators have introduced a legislation in the name of Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani peace activist who was shot by the Taliban, to provide scholarship to girls from Pakistan.

Introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer and Mary Landrieu, the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act is designed to expand scholarship opportunities for disadvantaged young women in Pakistan. The Boxer-Landrieu bill would require a 30 per cent increase in the number of scholarships awarded under the programme for the next four years, and that these additional scholarships be awarded solely to women.

The measure would also expand the range of academic disciplines that scholarship recipients could pursue to improve graduates' chances of obtaining meaningful employment.

"Malala Yousafzai bravely advocated for the education of women and girls, something that should be a basic human right," Boxer said.

"This bill not only recognises Malala's incredible courage, but will ensure that more young women in Pakistan are able to pursue their dreams through higher education," she said.

"The attack on Malala Yousafzai last October reminds us of the difficult obstacles women and girls face around the world every day, including poverty, low social standing and violence, in their quest to espouse the basic freedoms enjoyed by American women," Senator Landrieu said.

"Providing an education is absolutely critical for the future of every girl and society as a whole. When women and men have equal access to educational resources, economies flourish, families strengthen and societies move forward," she said.

"I am proud to introduce the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act alongside Senator Boxer and to dedicate it to Malala and the millions of other girls and women who risk their lives every day to gain an education. By lifting up the rights of women internationally, we can strengthen women's rights here at home, too," Landrieu said. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act would expand and enhance an existing United States Agency for International Development (USAID) scholarship program called the Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Programme.

The USAID programme awards scholarships for university studies in agriculture or business administration to economically disadvantaged young men and women from rural areas of Pakistan. To date, of the 1,807 scholarships awarded, only 25 per cent of the recipients have been women.