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Shaheen, Murkowski Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Improve Girls’ Access to Education Around the World

**Today, 130 million girls around the world are not regularly enrolled in school**

**Girls between the ages of 10 & 19 are 3 times more likely to be kept out of school, particularly in countries affected by conflict**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today reintroduced her legislation with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to address the unique barriers young girls in developing countries face in accessing a full education. Representatives Lois Frankel (FL-21) and Mike Waltz (FL-06) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

Today, approximately 130 million girls around the world are not in school. 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. 

“When girls are empowered with access to quality education, it sets their societies on the fast track for success and economic development. That’s why addressing the global gender education gap must be a critical U.S. policy priority,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to reintroduce bipartisan legislation that requires a global strategy to address barriers impeding education while getting to the root causes of these disparities. I’m glad to partner with Senator Murkowski on this crucial legislation to make clear the U.S. has a moral obligation to act now to protect and educate girls across the world.” 

“On the global scale, there are a staggering number of girls who are not in school because their attendance is deterred by unsafe environments, forced marriages, domestic violence, harassment, or poor socioeconomic status. These are all tragic obstacles, but through this legislation we have an opportunity to help,” said Senator Murkowski. “Education is a key factor in creating a healthy, successful future, both for individuals and for society at large. I’m proud to reintroduce legislation that will help break down barriers and give millions of girls in primary school and for young women pursuing a secondary education the chance to make attending school a reality.” 

“When girls are educated their futures are brighter. This means greater prosperity and security for their families, communities, and the world,” said Rep. Frankel. “11 million girls are at risk of never returning to school around the world right now, which means there are 11 million reasons that we need to care about this issue. This bill will tackle the barriers keeping girls out of school, and help build a more peaceful, prosperous, and equitable world.”

“As a Green Beret who has operated all over the world, I have seen firsthand that in societies where women thrive, extremism doesn’t,” said Rep. Waltz. “Adolescent girls are disproportionately at risk of dropping out of school than boys. The Keeping Girls in School Act will help ensure girls can safely access the proper education they deserve. Girls’ education is essential to our national security and this legislation will help make the United States and the world safer places.”

Specifically, the Keeping Girls in School Act would: 

  1. 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. 
  2. Outline and bring attention to 15 barriers that girls face in their pursuit of secondary education. 
  3. 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.  

Text of the bill can be found here

Senator Shaheen is a fierce advocate for women and girls in the United States and around the globe. Shaheen has prioritized issues to raise women up, such as opposing efforts to roll back women’s reproductive rights, fighting for the rights of sexual assault survivors, advocating on behalf of family planning and women’s global health, spearheading efforts to end violence against women and securing women leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. Shaheen is also an outspoken advocate for Afghan women and girls amid U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Shaheen’s bipartisan resolution with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) condemning the recent terror attack on a girls’ school in Kabul and in support of international efforts to ensure the safety of Afghan girls, recently cleared the Senate