House Companion of Shaheen, Murkowski Bipartisan Bill to Improve Girls’ Access to School Worldwide Clears House of Representatives

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) applauded the passage of the House companion legislation to their bipartisan bill – the Keeping Girls in School Act – which cleared the House of Representatives this afternoon. The bipartisan legislation would help address unique barriers adolescent girls in developing countries face in accessing an education. Representative Lois Frankel (FL-21) led the effort in the House of Representatives with Representatives Susan Brooks (IN-05) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01).

Today, approximately 130 million girls around the world are not in school. They face a wide variety of barriers that prevent them from receiving a necessary education. The Keeping Girls in School Act would direct the U.S. government to leverage its resources and partnerships with private institutions, NGOs and federal agencies to create solutions that address the obstacles facing adolescent girls. The bill would also require the development of a U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls to ensure that the United States remains committed to adolescent girls as a critical demographic in the growth of every nation, especially in developing nations.

“This bipartisan legislation is a necessary instrument for development and it sends a powerful message that educating women and girls around the world must be a U.S. foreign policy priority. I’m very encouraged to see our legislation clear the House of Representatives and I urge Senator McConnell to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote,” said Senator Shaheen. “Closing the education gap that exists between boys and girls and breaking down the societal barriers that prevent girls from accessing an education are crucial to strengthening communities and enabling development. Empowering girls with an education is an investment in their lives today and the generation of girls who will follow tomorrow. I’m proud to stand arm in arm with Senator Murkowski and Congresswoman Frankel to drive this bill forward.”

“Education is a key factor of the overall health and success of individuals and societies at large. Despite this being widely recognized, there is still a staggering number of girls who are being denied the opportunity to simply go to school. Unsafe environments, forced marriages, poor socioeconomic status, violence, and harassment are among the numerous obstacles that many women across the globe face in pursuit of an education. And it is entirely unacceptable,” said Senator Murkowski. “Since our initial introduction last spring, Senator Shaheen and I have worked hard with stakeholders, Senate colleagues, and members in the House of Representatives to improve our legislation to craft a final product that will help empower the nearly 130 million girls that are not regularly enrolled in school around the world."

“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.”

Specifically, the Keeping Girls in School Act would:

  • Authorize USAID to enter into innovative, results-based and traditional grant programs designed to reduce the barriers that adolescent girls face to receiving an education.
  • Outline and bring attention to 14 barriers that girls face in their pursuit of secondary education.
  • Require the development of a U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls in consultation with other departments and agencies in the federal government and civil society, to be reviewed and updated every 5 years.

The Keeping Girls in School Act is endorsed by 50 international nonprofit, faith-based and service delivery organizations, including Save the Children, CARE USA, UNICEF USA and Girl Up. 


Related Issues: Education