WASHINGTON, D.C. — In hopes of continuing the success of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative, New Hampshire’s Sen. Jeanne Shaheen introduced the Keeping Girls in School Act on May 18, 2017.
The bill’s focus is designating resources and attention toward eliminating the immense barriers adolescent girls in developing countries face while acquiring any form of education. In this way, the world’s poorest nations will be able to keep girls in school.
As it is three times more likely for girls to be kept out of school than boys of the same age, there are estimated to be 130 million school-aged girls who do not attend school.
Following the pathway paved by Let Girls Learn, Shaheen is urging the U.S. government to create an Adolescent Girls Challenge Fund to be used on programs that encourage increased female education around the world. If passed, it will give the U.S. authorization to address specific issues hindering girls’ learning in developing countries and institute a Global Strategy to tackle these issues.
Because of the immense poverty that looms over a great percentage of the world’s population, parents are often forced to choose which of their children they will send to school. When the price of uniforms, books and bus fares is factored in and compared with the help a young girl can provide around the home, it’s easy to understand why daughters are oftentimes excluded from opportunities for education.
Beyond this, many girls are kept at home because of the incredible risks of sexual harassment, rape and early pregnancy.
Sen. Shaheen, the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is and always has been a strong advocate for women around the world. This bill is just one of the many in which she has pushed for the improvement of female education, healthcare and riddance of violence against women.
Following President Trump’s statement disclosing his plans to terminate the Let Girls Learn Initiative, Shaheen released her plans for the Keeping Girls in School Act to continue the fight.
The bill has already been endorsed by 50 international service organizations, including UNICEF USA who recognize the dire need much of the world has to keep girls in school.
In an Advocates for Youth statement regarding the endorsement of the bill, the group said, “Young people, both domestically and globally, have the right to lead healthy lives. That means that all youth, including adolescent girls in the Global South, need to have access to education and resources in order to reach their full potential.”
– Emily Trosclair