Take action today to help keep girls in school

signatures so far toward our goal of
Ethiopia
Mercy Corps is helping girls in rural Ethiopia succeed in school by providing school materials and supporting income-generating activities for their mothers.

Across the globe, too many girls face barriers in accessing education. Currently, 132 million girls globally are not enrolled in school. Girls between the ages of 10 and 19 are three times more likely than boys to be kept out of school, especially in conflict-torn countries. There are many barriers impeding girls’ access to education, including lack of safety and inadequate sanitation facilities and products at school.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and poses an even higher risk to girls’ education across the globe. According to UNESCO, an estimated 11.2 million additional girls may not return to school due to COVID-19. In Afghanistan, a country affected by decades of conflict, 3.7 million children, 60% of whom are girls, are not enrolled in school. Over 80% of girls in poverty in Guinea, Mali, and Pakistan have only attended two or fewer years of school.

The United States can take immediate action to promote girls’ education. A bipartisan group in Congress has introduced the Keeping Girls in School Act. If enacted, this bill would empower girls around the globe by focusing on innovative strategies for the U.S. government to address the barriers girls face in accessing quality secondary education. The legislation creates paths for funding and coordination to ensure that girls have safe and quality educational opportunities, and support to enroll in and attend school regularly. It focuses on adolescent girls, looking to help them with successful transitions from primary to secondary school and on through graduation.

Every girl deserves an education, and they cannot wait any longer. More must be done to ensure that getting an education is not a distant dream for many girls around the world. Investing in girls’ education can help empower them, build their future, and lift their households and communities out of poverty. According to the World Bank, lifetime earnings for women could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion globally if every girl received a quality secondary education.

Please urge your Members of Congress to support and co-sponsor the Keeping the Girls in School Act so that no girl is left behind. Investing in girls’ education has never been more urgent.

Here is the letter we’ll send to Congress on your behalf:

Dear Member of Congress,

As your constituent, I am writing to urge you to co-sponsor the Keeping Girls in School Act (S.2276) to ensure quality secondary education for all girls. Across the world, 132 million girls are not enrolled in school, and girls between the ages of 10 and 19 are three times more likely than boys to be kept out of school, particularly in conflict-torn countries. Ensuring access to quality secondary education for girls can reduce the rates of child, early, and forced marriage and risk of gender-based violence.

This is why I am asking you to support the Keeping Girls in School Act — an Act that aims to improve educational opportunities and economic security for all girls. If enacted, this bill would require the U.S. Department of State and Agency for International Development (USAID) to review and update the current U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls and submit an update to Congress every five years to outline the steps the U.S. government will take to ensure girls and boys have equal access to school. In addition to responding to pre-existing barriers, USAID projects will address new barriers that have recently emerged as a result of COVID-19, such as inequitable access to digital resources. The legislation identifies a non-exhaustive list of 14 barriers, such as harmful societal and cultural norms, inadequate sanitation facilities, and early pregnancy, and authorizes USAID to address them through financial mechanisms such as development impact bonds and results-based financing.

Having access to quality secondary education provides economic benefits because it will assist in lifting households and communities out of poverty. An increase in girls’ access to education could lead to a rise in income. According to the World Bank, lifetime earnings for women could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion globally if every girl received a quality secondary education. Conversely, investing in girls’ education could lead to growth in GDP. Developing countries could see a return of $2.80 for every dollar spent on girls’ education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated and widened existing gender inequalities and is estimated to push an additional 11.2 million additional girls out of school. The U.S. must continue to be a global leader in efforts to improve educational opportunities for all.

I urge you to stand up for girls around the globe who face barriers to accessing education by co-sponsoring the Keeping Girls in School Act.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,