Save the Children Celebrates the Introduction of the Girls LEAD Act
WASHINGTON (Nov. 1, 2019)—Save the Children celebrates the introduction of the bipartisan Girls LEAD Act by Sens. Collins (R-ME) and Cardin (D-MD). The Girls LEAD (Leadership, Engagement, Agency, and Development) Act promotes girls’ leadership and participation in civic and political processes through U.S. foreign assistance.
“We know that girls understand best what they not only need to survive, but to thrive,” said Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles. “We must listen to and empower girls so they can be a force of change in their own communities. The Girls LEAD Act is an important step in recognizing girls as agents of change, and ensuring their meaningful engagement in U.S. development programming.”
Too often, girls face systemic barriers to civic and political participation because of their age and gender. At the current rate of progress, it will take over 100 years to achieve gender parity in political participation. Gender equality and full political participation is key to sustaining healthy democracies and maintaining global stability. “Despite comprising more than 50 percent of the world’s population, women are underrepresented at all levels of public sector decision-making,” said Senator Collins. “The Girls LEAD Act will complement Congress’ recent efforts to combat this issue by specifically addressing the civic involvement and leadership of adolescent girls, an area where there is currently a gap in U.S. foreign assistance programming.”
“I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation, which seeks to strengthen girls’ participation in democracy, human rights, and governance,” said Senator Cardin. “The Girls LEAD Act shines a spotlight on the necessity of empowering adolescent girls around the world and ensures that U.S. foreign assistance programs are working to achieve this goal. Providing girls access to the tools they need for success supports stability and growth in their communities and across the globe.”
Specifically, the legislation:
- supports the capability of girls to assume leadership roles and influence decision-making in their communities.
- ensures an evidence-based and best practices approach to initiatives supporting girls’ civic and political leadership.
- encourages the U.S. to meaningfully consult and engage with girls and boys in development initiatives.
- identifies specific barriers to girls’ and women’s civic and political engagement.
- bolsters the capacity of civil and political institutions to engage with girls as agents of change, and prioritizes local and national girl-led or girl-focused civil society organizations.
The act will enact reforms across USAID and the Department of State to ensure that girls are supported to be able to meaningfully engage in civic and political forums and processes in their communities and countries. It would require a coordinated strategy and implementation plan for increasing girls’ civic participation from the two agencies and mandate a publicly available annual report on progress made by those U.S. government agencies in implementing this strategy.
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