The two chairwomen of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues--Republican U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana and Democrat U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida--brought out the “Keeping Girls in School Act" which, they say, will “support the economic and educational empowerment of girls globally."
“Today, over 130 million girls worldwide are not in school,” Frankel’s office noted. “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.”
The bill looks to keep girls around the world in secondary schools listing 14 barriers they currently face, “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” and relying on public-private partnership and development impact funds to “leverage real results with measurable outcomes." The bill also requires that the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls be reviewed and updated every five years.
“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.”
“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."
“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,” insisted Frankel’s office “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 percent; reduce child marriage by 66 percent; decrease violent conflict by 37 percent; and increase girls’ future wages by up to 20 percent for every year enrolled."
Dozens of groups have lined up in support of the bill which also has the backing of Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan and Democrat U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, both of whom represent New York.
First elected to Congress in 2012, after serving as mayor of West Palm Beach and leading Democrats in the state House, Frankel is headed back to Capitol Hill for a fourth term as she faces no opposition in next month’s general election.