Girl Up Leaders Welcome New Law to Help Educate Refugee Girls

Girl Up Leaders Welcome New Law to Help Educate Refugee Girls

New Legislation Protects Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings

Washington, D.C. (Date) –  Girl Up today welcomed the passage and signing of theProtecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act(S.1580/ H.R. 2408) into law. Girl Up girl leaders from across the U.S. have been instrumental in leading advocacy efforts since the bill was introduced in 2016, taking over 6,800 advocacy actions to promote the bill.

This legislation, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congressand signed into law by the President, authorizes the U.S. government to make the education of children in areas of conflict a priority in their assistance efforts and directs the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase the access of displaced children, especially girls, to educational, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Through Girl Up, thousands of girls have led the charge by meeting with members of Congress on Capitol Hill and in their districts across the U.S., hosting call-in days, having other students in their schools and communities sign and send advocacy cards, and speaking on Capitol Hill to educate others about the pressing need for refugee girls to have access to education.

“Girls in refugee settings are among the most vulnerable in the world,” Girl Up Co-Executive Director Melissa Kilby said. “And making sure they have access to education is key to creating a better future for them, their communities and for the world,” Co-Executive Director Anna Blue added.

Currently, over 68 million people have been forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution – the highest number since the end of the Second World War. Half of the population of displaced people are under the age of 18, and one third of displaced children do not receive primary education. The gross enrollment rate for primary school globally is 90%; however, among refugees it is only 61%. At the secondary schooling level, the global enrollment rate is 84%, and that figure drops to 23% among refugees.

Fifty representatives co-sponsored the House version of the bill which was introduced by Congressman Chabot and Congresswoman Kelly. “Girls in displaced settings are less than likely to have access to education. I introduced this legislation not only to make sure that girls in displaced settings have an opportunity learn the skills they need for success, but also to help ensure that these same girls are not subjected to exploitation, trafficking, and other forms of abuse. I applaud Girl Up for their role in helping us pass this legislation, and for sending their Teen Advisors to our markups and to meetings with Members in both Chambers. I especially want to thank Girl Up Teen Advisor Elina Govil for writing an op-ed with me last year on this critical topic. I look forward to continuing to fight for girls’ access to education with all of you,” said Congressman Chabot. Eighteen senators co-sponsored the Senate version, led by Senator Rubio and Senator Menendez.

“Millions of people are displaced globally due to ongoing conflicts and humanitarian crises leaving children, particularly girls, vulnerable and unable to access a quality basic education. Education is critical to ensuring children have an opportunity to succeed and contribute to their communities,” Senator Marco Rubio said. “I thank President Trump for signing our bill and solidifying U.S. commitments to ensure that all children have access to a primary or secondary education, whatever their gender and wherever they live.”

A child who is denied an education is more vulnerable tohuman trafficking and forced labor.Education offers socioeconomic opportunities, psychological stability, and physical protection for displaced people. It helps develop thriving societies and allows displaced people and asylum seekers the opportunity to rebuild their lives and communities. This Act prompts the US Government to partner with foreign education authorities to increase refugees’ school enrollment. Refugees will be able to take advantage of innovative policies that accommodate displaced students, such as shift schools and extended hours schools.

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About Girl Up

Girl Up is a global leadership development initiative, positioning girls to be leaders in the movement for gender equality. With resources in five languages and 2,500 Girl Up Clubs in more than 100 countries, we’ve trained 40,000 girls of all backgrounds to create tangible change for girls everywhere. Girl Up provides leadership training and gives girls tools to become gender equality advocates and activists. Through our programs, girls broaden their social impact skill set, benefit from a platform to tell their stories, and apply STEM for social good. Our girl leaders create real policy change at local and national levels, help raise millions of dollars to support United Nations programs that reach tens of thousands of girls around the world and build community-based movements. Girl Up was founded by the United Nations Foundation in 2010 and continues to work across a global community of partners to achieve gender equality worldwide. Learn more at www.GirlUp.org.

Press contact: Beth Nervig, bnervig@girlup.org.