Girl Up: Protecting Girls’ Rights to Education


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Now more than ever, young women are stepping up to empower each other. Globally, more than 60 million girls of primary and secondary age are not in school. For girls in developing countries, education is the key to a brighter future. Girl Up is the United Nations Foundation adolescent girl campaign, and engages girls to take action by raising awareness and funds on a global scale.

It began as a campaign for American girls, but has transformed into an international movement with almost a million advocates across the globe. Girl Up’s efforts help the hardest-to-reach girls, living in places where it is hardest to be a girl. The organization’s unique leadership training and skill development have cultivated a generation of current and future girl leaders. One of Girl Up’s current endeavors is to get the Protecting Girls’ Rights to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act (H.R.5735) passed by the U.S. government.

There are more than 65 million people who have been forced from their homes worldwide. Girls are often the most vulnerable and are the least likely to be in school. Refugee girls who are not in school are vulnerable to early marriage, human trafficking, and child labor. The U.S. has the chance to ensure all girls who have been forced to flee their homes can continue or begin their education.

The Protecting Girls’ Rights to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act (H.R.5735) was introduced by Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio in July 2016. The bill would ensure that the educational needs of girls and women are considered in the design, implementation, and evaluation of our foreign assistance programs. It would ensure refugees get the education they need and deserve.

H.R. 5735 calls the U.S. government to help in a few ways. Countries need to support refugee access to safe, quality primary and secondary education. By coordinating the United Nations, World Bank, and other local and international non-governmental organizations, nations hosting refugees could be supported with enhanced training and capacity-building resources.

The bill also calls the U.S. to promote hosting refugees within local educational systems, specifically with innovative solutions like shift schools and extended hours. Lastly, countries need to incorporate measures to evaluate the role of education in reducing child marriage, gender-based violence, trafficking, and forced labor.

There are a number of ways to help move the bill forward. Girl Up has created an app that helps to advocate for the bill and inform members of Congress about the needs of girls in developing countries. All of this can be done from a phone, and make a real difference in girl’s lives worldwide.

Keaton McCalla

Photo: Flickr


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