WASHINGTON D.C. — Leaders all over the globe work actively to ensure that men and women receive equal treatment—in politics, in the community, at work and at school. Since whether or not the Trump administration will continue Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative has become unclear, Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire proposed the Keeping Girls in School Act to promote educational opportunities for girls in developing countries.
In 2015, Michelle Obama created Let Girls Learn in an effort to revolutionize the perception of female potential at every level from the classroom to the workforce. The Keeping Girls in School Act has similarly holistic goals, operating on the idea that women are vital to the social, political and economic fabric of the globe, and that educating them helps to secure the progress of nations.
The bill, which focuses on the educational needs of adolescent girls, comes at an opportune time. Around 130 million girls live without access to education; Shaheen wants to show them that the United States is on their side.
If passed, the three core steps of the Act will establish the Adolescent Girls Challenge Fund for creating girls’ education programs around the world, use federal aid to combat challenges which prevent girls in developing countries from going to school and design a global strategy to open doors for disadvantaged young women.
These steps will require Congress to revisit and revamp the United States Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls; the U.S. State Department instituted the initiative centered on ending early marriages in March 2016. The Keeping Girls in School Act will maximize the United States Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls by acknowledging and breaking down a wider variety of “unique barriers” that inhibit destitute girls and women.
Over 50 nonprofit organizations commend the bill. The passing of the Act may prompt a drop in early marriage, female genital mutilation and other obstacles that women in developing countries likely face without an education.
The Committee on Foreign Relations has not taken further action since first reviewing the bill, which also lists the Committee on Foreign Affairs as a party of interest. More detailed information will emerge pending the support of the House and Senate.
There remains plenty of room for gender equality to improve in the field of education. But with far-reaching initiatives like the Keeping Girls in School Act in play, girls in developing countries will likely achieve equal access to educational resources.
– Madeline Forwerck