White House Announces ‘Let Girls Learn’ Initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The White House announced a new initiative today to expand its efforts to help adolescent girls worldwide get a quality education through an initiative called “Let Girls Learn.”  The new initiative will elevate existing programs and public-private partnerships, seek out new ones, and challenge organizations and governments to commit resources to lift up adolescent girls across the globe.The U.S. Government is committed to improving opportunities for all children in low-income countries to receive a quality education and obtain the skills they need to live healthy and productive lives. This includes an average annual investment of $1 billion by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in international education efforts to ensure equitable treatment of boys and girls, create safe school environments, and engage communities in support for girls’ education. Together with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Peace Corps, and the U.S. Department of Education, USAID and the United States Government have a long history of supporting education programs around the world. 
“Across the globe, we are harnessing the power of innovation and partnerships to ensure that every girl—everywhere—has access to a quality education,” said Acting USAID Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt. “By empowering girls with the gift of knowledge through Let Girls Learn, we can empower a generation of doctors, engineers, and educators who can transform the world’s most vulnerable communities.”
Let Girls Learn will focus on programs to reach adolescent girls in Afghanistan, mobilize new ideas and leverage resources to support innovative approaches to adolescent girls’ education, and increase the Peace Corps’ community-based efforts for girls’ education using the existing network of volunteers.  Additional resources will fund basic education for projects in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Middle East, and Asia in three key areas:
Providing Quality Education:  Funding for these programs will make schools safer for girls, create teaching and learning materials that promote positive gender norms, and conduct community engagement and outreach to provide the support adolescent girls need to stay in school as they learn to read and write.
Reducing Barriers:  Funding for these programs will reduce health barriers for adolescent girls, including preventing and responding to HIV, early pregnancy, nutrition, menstrual hygiene, gender-based violence, and child, early, and forced marriage. Girls face economic barriers, including school fees and cost of materials to attend school, as well as the cost of health services. Girls also face physical barriers, including lack of schools for girls or schools that are too far from home. Additionally, these programs will target security, the threat of violence and programs to reduce gender-based violence. 
Empowering Adolescent Girls:  Funding for these programs will focus on broader life skills issues that help girls realize their rights and help enable them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead.
Today, 62 million girls around the world are not in school. Millions more are fighting to stay there. Some may be growing up in a war. Some may have been married or become pregnant as a young teen. Their families may depend on their income. They may lack access to a safe place to learn, facing harassment, abuse, and discrimination. If they can get to a school—sometimes walking for hours each way—the girls may not have access to proper hygiene facilities.