Shaheen, Murkowski Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation in the Senate to Tackle Obstacles Preventing Adolescent Girls from Accessing Quality Education

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today reintroduced her legislation with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would help address the unique barriers adolescent girls in developing countries face in accessing an education. Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

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.

“Breaking down barriers that prevent girls around the world from accessing quality education is both a moral obligation and an important U.S. foreign policy priority. When girls are educated and empowered, we see the ripple effect in the development of their communities and success of their economies,” said Senator Shaheen. “In addition to addressing the education gap between boys and girls, the Keeping Girls in School Act would require a global strategy to educate and protect adolescent girls around the world. Ensuring young women’s access to education also means confronting the serious societal and health issues they face, including forced marriage, genital mutilation and other forms of violence. The bipartisan support for this bill shows that Congress sees this as a critical U.S. policy priority and I hope we are able to act on this bill quickly.”

“Education is a key factor of the overall health and success of both individuals and the general public, yet the number of women around the world that are not in school is staggering. Unsafe environments, forced marriages, violence and harassment, and poor socioeconomic status are among the many tragic obstacles that many women across the globe face in pursuit of an education. We should not accept this,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m proud to help lead legislation that will help close educational gaps for both young girls in primary school and for young women pursuing a secondary education. Ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to achieve an education will help drive economic development and create stronger, more self-reliant female leaders. It’s our duty to girls across America, to women around the globe, and to societies at large to make the chance to go to school a reality.”

“When girls are educated and empowered, we uplift communities and families, reduce poverty, and create a more peaceful and prosperous world,” said Representative Frankel. “This bill helps girls succeed by tackling obstacles keeping them out of school, like gender-based violence and child marriage.”

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 has been endorsed by 50 international nonprofit, faith-based and service delivery organizations, including Save the Children, CARE USA, UNICEF USA and Girl Up. A full list of the organizations is available here.

Text of the bill can be found here.