Girls Not Brides USA celebrates the House passage of the Keeping Girls in School Act

Photo: World Vision US/ Laura Reinhardt

GIRLS NOT BRIDES USA CONGRATULATES REPRESENTATIVES LOIS FRANKEL (D-FL-21), SUSAN W. BROOKS (R-IN-05), NITA LOWEY (D-NY-17) AND BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA-01) ON HOUSE PASSAGE OF THE KEEPING GIRLS IN SCHOOL ACT (H.R. 2153)

Today, Girls Not Brides USA (GNB USA), the U.S. advocacy coalition dedicated to ending child, early and forced marriage, celebrates the House passage of the Keeping Girls in School Act. This bill was introduced last year to support the educational empowerment of adolescent girls globally.

GNB USA is especially thankful for the leadership of Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), Congress Woman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN-05), Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) in achieving this important milestone for adolescent girls’ education around the world.

Research shows that adolescent girls who remain in school are more likely to live longer, marry later, and earn a higher income to support their families, boosting the economic prosperity of their communities and nations.

“When girls are educated and empowered, we uplift communities and families, reduce poverty, and create a safer and more prosperous world,” said Congresswoman Lois Frankel. “Today’s bill passage is a big step towards helping girls around the world overcome the obstacles keeping them out of school, like child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence.”

However, over 130 million girls worldwide are not in school today. This bipartisan legislation 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 child marriage, pregnancy, poverty, inadequate sanitation facilities, lack of safety at school or travelling to school, and other harmful social and cultural norms.

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, including child, early, and forced marriage. The bill authorises 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. These proposals will utilise public-private partnerships, development impact bonds, and other innovative financing mechanisms to leverage real results with measurable outcomes.

The Keeping Girls in School Act also requires that the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls is reviewed and updated every five years for at least 10 years. The bill’s emphasis on the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls is particularly important to the success of U.S. programming and policy. Girls Not Brides USA worked closely with the U.S. Government in drafting the Strategy, launched in the spring of 2016. The Strategy is the first by any government in the world to look at girls’ lives holistically, with attention to rights, education, health, safety, and harmful practices such as child marriage.

“We know that education is key to helping girls and women around the world achieve parity and equality of opportunity, as well as live long, healthier lives,” said Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks. “The Keeping Girls in School Act works to support the economic and educational empowerment of girls globally by targeting these and other barriers. I am encouraged by the House passing this critically important legislation, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to get this passed into law.”

Girls Not Brides USA is excited to work with Senator Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Murkowski (R-AK) in 2020 to pass this important piece of legislation in the U.S. Senate and ultimately have it signed into law.

Full text of the legislation can be found here. Original press release from the lead co-sponsors of the bill can be found here.