Girl Up Welcomes the Introduction of Legislation to Support Education for Refugee Girls

Girl Up recognizes the leadership of Representatives Chabot and Kelly and Senators Rubio and Menendez

Washington, D.C. (July 20, 2017) – Girl Up Campaign Director, Melissa Kilby, released the statement below about the introduction of bipartisan House and Senate legislation in support of providing girls access to education in refugee settings. In May, Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) introduced H.R. 2408, the “Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act.” Yesterday, companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Global Women’s Issues, respectively. Kilby said:

“Girls in refugee settings are among the most vulnerable in the world, and making sure they get an education is key to creating a better future for them and for the world. When a girl is educated and empowered, she is a powerful force for change.

“As 350 girl leaders brought that message to Capitol Hill yesterday to educate Members of Congress and their staff about the need for refugees to have access to education, we were pleased to see bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate to address this pressing issue. We applaud the leadership of Rep. Steve Chabot and Rep. Robin Kelly, who introduced their bill in May, as well as the leadership of Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Robert Menendez to help educate girls in need. With the international community facing the largest displacement crisis since World War II, we hope the House and Senate take up these important pieces of legislation as quickly as possible.

“Strong U.S. support for girls’ education, alongside the life-saving work of the United Nations, can help change the lives of refugee girls around the world. In turn, this will create a more just and prosperous future for all of us.”

Today, there are more than 65 million people worldwide who have been forced from their homes by conflict and persecution. Displaced girls are the least likely to be in school, making them especially vulnerable to early marriage, human trafficking, and child labor. This bipartisan legislation will help to ensure that children who have been displaced will have access to primary and secondary schooling.

Upon announcing the legislation, the sponsors of the bill said the following.

Representative Steve Chabot:

“As a parent and former teacher, I firmly believe that education empowers our children. Unfortunately, with a staggering 65 million people around the world now displaced from their homes, it has become increasingly difficult for children in conflict zones to receive a primary or secondary education. H.R. 2408 aims to offer educational opportunities to the approximately 62 million girls globally who aren’t in school. By providing access to safe primary and secondary education, this legislation would help pave the way for a more peaceful and stable life for these girls, before they are subjected to further poverty, trafficking and recruitment into extremist organizations.”

Representative Robin Kelly:

“As a mother, the statistics are truly heartbreaking. There are 30 million children living as refugees and 20 million of them aren’t receiving a primary education. In addition to running from war, strife and famine, this lack of education makes these young people easier targets for terrorist organizations and human traffickers.  This bill matches our international aid investments with our values – protecting children and helping them learn, grow and succeed – while supporting U.S. and global peace and security.”

Senator Marco Rubio:

“It is a sad reality that 62 million girls across the globe are not in school. It is critical that we help change this and ensure that all children have access to a primary or secondary education, whatever their gender and wherever they live. When girls are not in school, they can become more vulnerable to human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. This legislation will help offer a brighter future for millions of children around the world.”

Senator Robert Menendez:

“More than 65 million people are currently displaced due to driving forces including war, famine, and persecution, half of whom are under the age of 18. Education empowers young people to take control of their future and by equipping them with tools to become the next generation of leaders for their communities in and emerging from conflict. Ensuring access to education provides alternatives for joining criminal organization and protection from abduction, human trafficking and early marriage, which disproportionately impact young girls. This legislation sends and important message that the United States supports displaced people around the world, the importance of equal opportunity for girls and boys, and the value of education.”

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About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by philanthropic, corporate, government, and individual donors. Learn more at unfoundation.org.

About Girl Up
Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign, supports the empowerment of girls everywhere. Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has funded UN programs that promote the health, safety, education, and leadership of girls in developing countries and built a community of nearly half a million passionate advocates – including Girl Up Global Advocates Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Latin American business leader Angélica Fuentes. Our youth leaders, representing more than 1200 Girl Up Clubs in 66 countries, stand up, speak up, and rise up to support the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl. Learn more at GirlUp.org.