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Girls Not Brides USA welcomes the Keeping Girls in School Act

Photo credit: Kakenya Centre for Excellence

Girls Not Brides USA, the U.S. advocacy coalition dedicated to ending child, early and forced marriage, welcomes the introduction of the Keeping Girls in School Act, a bill designed to ensure the U.S. Government does its part to help address the barriers that are keeping more than 130 million girls out of school globally.

Introduced today by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the bill reflects the historical support of the Senator, Congress and the U.S. Government of the empowerment of adolescent girls. By recognising that adolescent girls face an incredible number of barriers to accessing secondary education, including child marriage, the Keeping Girls in School Act will help the U.S. Government address these barriers through smart investments and coordination between U.S. Government agencies.

“This bill ensures that the U.S. Government remains committed to the goal of empowered, educated girls by supporting both girls’ access to secondary school and addressing the underlying causes which keep girls out of school, such as gender inequality and child marriage. It reflects the goal that should be shared by all of improving girls’ access to quality futures through education and empowerment,”

stated Francoise Girard, President of the International Women’s Health Coalition, one of the organisations which co-chairs Girls Not Brides USA.

David Ray, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy for CARE USA, another co-chairing member of Girls Not Brides USA, added,

“The transition from primary to secondary school is particularly fraught for adolescent girls and is a time when girls are often removed from school to marry, often to much older men. Early pregnancy, violence and harassment, and gender discrimination perpetuate girls’ inability to access quality education. This effectively ends their childhoods and limits their potential.”

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.

“Evidence shows that when girls are empowered, educated and included in development efforts, we are much more likely to achieve goals of lasting peace, economic growth, improved health and human rights for all,”

noted Dr. Sarah Degnan Kambou, President of the International Centre for Research on Women, a co-chair of Girls Not Brides USA. “These efforts must be undertaken through holistic and interagency governmental approaches, such as the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, which is why it is so critical the Strategy is included in the Keeping Girls in School Act.”

The implementation of this Strategy hinges on support from the Administration, but also funding and support from Capitol Hill. By requiring the Strategy in the Keeping Girls in School Act, Senator Shaheen is not only helping to ensure girls access education, as is their right, but also have all the tools and environmental factors necessary to thrive now and into adulthood.

About Girls Not Brides USA

Girls Not Brides USA includes more than 50 US-based organisations committed to working together to end child, early, and forced marriage worldwide. Girls Not Brides USA is an affiliate of the Girls Not Brides global partnership, which includes more than 700 civil society organisations from 90 countries.

Members of Girls Not Brides USA are leading the fight to end child marriage around the world by working at the community, national, regional and global levels, in advocacy, research and direct programming. Through our diverse coalition, we tackle child marriage from every angle and on every continent. In the US, Girls Not Brides USA was a leading voice in the creation of the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls and ensuring ending child marriage was a central tenant of the Strategy.

For more information about Girls Not Brides USA or child marriage, please contact the Girls Not Brides USA Co-Chairs: