WASHINGTON, DC – Today, on International Day of the Girl, Congresswomen Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) and Lois Frankel (D-FL21), co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, announce the introduction of the Keeping Girls in School Act to support the economic and educational empowerment of girls globally.
Today, over 130 million girls worldwide are not in school. While the U.S. has been the global leader in efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities, particularly for girls, there is still more work to be done because every child deserves an equal opportunity to access quality education. This legislation brings attention to the systemic barriers preventing girls from accessing secondary education; barriers such as child marriage, religious or ethnic discrimination, female genital mutilation and poor safety traveling to schools. Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY17) and Dan Donovan (R-NY11) are original cosponsors of the legislation.
“We must break down the barriers that keep girls out of the classroom,” said Brooks. “When girls stay in school their communities are healthier, wealthier and safer. In order to cultivate a thriving future for our world, girl’s education and development must be a top priority. When we stand up for women and girls, we help empower them to raise their voices, grasp opportunities and reach new heights.”
“When girls are educated and given the skills to support their families, we uplift communities, reduce poverty, and create a more peaceful and prosperous world,” said Frankel. “This bill puts empowering adolescent girls front and center by addressing obstacles keeping them out of school, like gender-based violence and child marriage.”
“If you limit a girl’s access to education, you limit her in every area of her life,” said Jaha Dukureh, founder of Safe Hands for Girls and Africa’s Regional Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women. “We have a collective responsibility to break down every barrier girls face, so that they can enjoy their right to an education and realize their full potential.”
“Failing to educate a child is a grave injustice – she is not only robbed of economic opportunities, she is deprived of her voice and her future place in the world,” said Lowey. “If we want to make sustained progress on international development and make the world a more stable place, we must prioritize education, especially for girls and young women.”
“The Keeping Girls in School Act will help empower girls by increasing their access to educational opportunities and economic security,” said Donovan. “While helping girls reach their full potential and tackling poverty, this bill also advances America’s national security interests by promoting opportunities that could lead to more stability abroad. I am proud to join Reps. Frankel, Brooks, and Lowey on this bipartisan effort and will keep on pushing for initiatives to protect and educate vulnerable women across the globe.”
The Keeping Girls in School Act focuses on closing the gender gap for adolescent girls and keeping them in school at the secondary level, a time when girls are most at risk of dropping out of school due to forced marriage, pregnancy, and other family pressures. The economic benefits of girls’ education are substantial and can help lift households, communities and nations out of poverty. Keeping girls in secondary school could*:
- Add $92 billion to the economies of low and middle-income nations;
- Cut child deaths by 50%;
- Reduce child marriage by 66%;
- Decrease violent conflict by 37%; and
- Increase girls’ future wages by up to 20% for every year enrolled.
Specifically, the Keeping Girls in School Act:
- Outlines and highlights a non-exhaustive list of 14 barriers that girls face in entering and remaining in secondary education institutions.
- Authorizes a budget neutral funding mechanism where USAID is directed to enter into results-based financing and/or traditional grant project proposals to reduce these barriers adolescent girls face. These proposals will utilize public-private partnerships, development impact bonds, and other innovative financing mechanisms to leverage real results with measurable outcomes.
- Requires that the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls be reviewed and updated every 5 years.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.
Additionally, dozens of civil, human and women’s rights organizations have endorsed the Keeping Girls in School Act. List can be found here.
*Statistics are according to UNESCO, the Education Policy and Data Center, CARE, the Global Partnership for Education, and the World Bank.