Obama Announces Global ‘Let Girls Learn’ Initiative

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The Obama administration is set to launch the “Let Girls Learn” initiative, which will encourage a number of federal agencies to work with other countries in an effort to help girls attend school.

“Sixty-two million girls around the world — half of whom are adolescent — are not in school,” said an administration statement. “These girls have diminished economic opportunities and are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, early and forced marriage, and other forms of violence.”

In his announcement of the initiative, President Barack Obama said that over 60 million girls around the world do not currently attend school.  This lack of education causes the girls to have less advancement opportunities, and makes them more likely to marry early, possibly by force, in addition to become victims of gender-based violence.

He continued by saying that although the US has done much to support girls education in a silent role, it was time to create a single program, “Let Girls Learn,” that tied all the initiatives of the past together.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had launched a campaign last year under the same name.  The new initiative will “elevate existing programs, including in areas of conflict and crisis, and leverage public and private sector partners,” and “[i]t will also look to build more partnerships and challenge other organizations and governments to commit resources to lift up adolescent girls across the globe.”

“We’re making clear to any country that’s our partner or wants to be our partner that they need to get serious about increasing the number of girls in school,” Obama said at the White House, where he was joined by the first lady.

The Peace Corps are set to play a major role by promoting the initiative across 11 countries, including Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda.  More countries will be added at a later date, writes David Jackson for USA Today.

The Peace Corps will also work with first lady Michelle Obama on a new program to promote community-based solutions that will help girls attend and remain in school.

“Agencies across the U.S. government will work together to address the range of challenges confronting adolescent girls around the world. Agencies will increase efforts to build strategic partnerships and enhance diplomatic efforts that will help adolescent girls succeed,” according to the administration statement.

The administration plans to ask Congress for $250 million that would be used to help promote the program.

First Lady Michelle Obama will promote the initiative during a trip to Japan and Cambodia this month.