Save the Children Celebrates House Introduction of Girls LEAD Act

Congressman David Trone (D-MD) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduce bipartisan legislation to strengthen girls’ participation in democracy, human rights, and governance around the world

Washington, D.C. (April 24, 2020) – Today, Congressman David Trone (D-MD) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the bipartisan Girls LEAD Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Girls LEAD (Leadership, Engagement, Agency, and Development) Act promotes girls’ leadership and participation in civic and political processes through U.S. foreign assistance. This is a companion bill to the Senate version of the Girls LEAD Act, which was introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) in October of 2019.

“No one is a better expert on girls’ needs than girls themselves,” said Save the Children CEO Janti Soeripto. “The Girls LEAD Act will pave the way for girls around the world to participate in processes where decisions are made about their own lives, empowering them to undertake leadership roles now and long into the future.”

While gender equality and full political participation are key to increasing global stability and promoting healthy democracies, women currently make up less than seven percent of world leaders. Despite evidence that supporting girls to be leaders at an early age has multiplying benefits for girls and their communities, they often face obstacles to civic engagement due to their age and gender.

“When women are in leadership positions around the world, we are better for it. We see the best example of this in the women leading democracies across the globe who have taken swift and decisive action in response to the coronavirus,” said Congressman Trone. “This bipartisan bill prioritizes investment in girls’ interaction with civic systems at an early age, creating a strong pipeline for girls to become leaders and decision-makers for years to come.”

“When women engage, democracies are stronger, foreign aid is more effective, and the world is safer. A truly representative government relies on the voices of all its citizens, no matter their background or walk of life,” said Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers. “The bipartisan Girls LEAD Act highlights the importance of engaging girls in civics and public service. This will help build a stronger pipeline for young women to run for political office and encourage them to seek leadership positions in the private sector. With more women empowered, it will support a new generation of transformational leaders in democracies around the world.”

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, and
  • 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 legislation will enact reforms across USAID and the Department of State to ensure girls are supported to be able to meaningfully engage in civic and political forums and processes in their communities and countries. The act would require a coordinated strategy and implementation plan for increasing girls’ civic participation from these two agencies and mandate a publicly available annual report on progress made by those U.S. government agencies in implementing this strategy.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

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