Brooks introduces bipartisan Keeping Girls in School Act
U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) introduced a new bipartisan proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives that would support the empowerment, economic security and educational opportunities for adolescent girls around the world.
The Keeping Girls in School Act, H.R. 7055, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), is the House version of the same-named S. 1171, introduced in May by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Reps. Brooks and Frankel, co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, introduced H.R. 7055 on Oct. 9 along with Reps. Dan Donovan (R-NY) and three other original cosponsors, including U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
“We must break down the barriers that keep girls out of the classroom,” Rep. Brooks said last week. “When girls stay in school their communities are healthier, wealthier and safer. In order to cultivate a thriving future for our world, girl’s education and development must be a top priority. When we stand up for women and girls, we help empower them to raise their voices, grasp opportunities and reach new heights.”
More than 130 million girls worldwide aren’t in school, according to an Oct. 11 statement provided by Rep. Brooks’ office.
The bill would aim to break down roughly 14 universal challenges faced by girls around the globe in entering secondary education, such as forced child marriages, discrimination, physical abuse, and inadequate transportation to school, according to the statement.
“This bill puts empowering adolescent girls front and center by addressing obstacles keeping them out of school, like gender-based violence and child marriage,” said Rep. Frankel.
Rep. Donovan pointed out that the proposed bill also would help fight poverty and advance America’s national security interests “by promoting opportunities that could lead to more stability abroad.”
In fact, the lawmakers also cited statistics from several international organizations – including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Global Partnership for Education, the World Bank and CARE – showing that the monetary benefits of educating girls help lift households, communities and nations out of poverty and could add $92 billion to the economies of low and middle-income nations; decrease the incidences of child marriage by 66 percent; and raise their future wages by up to 20 percent for every year girls are enrolled in secondary school.
Specifically, the proposal would establish an Adolescent Girls Education Challenge Fund from which funds would be made available for the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other federal agencies to work with external partners to implement programs that guarantee adolescent girls enroll and succeed in school, according to the text of the bill.
The State Department and USAID would be authorized to oversee and coordinate all U.S. resources and activities related to promoting such educational opportunities for adolescent girls, according to the text.
H.R. 7055 has been referred to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee for consideration. S. 1171 is being reviewed by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.