The Obama administration has announced that it is expanding its efforts to help adolescent girls around the globe attend and complete school.
The Let Girls Learn initiative will build on existing girls' empowerment programs run by USAID, the U.S. State Department, the Peace Corps, and Millennium Challenge Corp.; leverage partnerships with public- and private-sector partners; and challenge other governments to commit resources to help adolescent girls complete their education. Today 62 million girls — half of them adolescents — are not in school and, as a result, face diminished economic opportunities and higher risk of early and forced marriage. Studies have found that, for girls, secondary school attendance is correlated with later marriage and childbearing, lower birth rates, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, and lower rates of HIV/AIDS.
In a partnership with the office of the first lady, the Peace Corps will work to build capacity at the grassroots by collaborating with local volunteers and leaders to identify community-based solutions in support of girls' education; increase its impact by recruiting, training, and placing additional volunteers in targeted countries; and raise public- and private-sector support for community-initiated projects through the Peace Corps Partnership Program and the newly established Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. In its first year, the program will be rolled out in eleven countries — Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda — and will be expanded to additional countries over the next five years. Organizations announcing commitments in support of the effort include the Brookings Institution — through its collaboration with CHARGE (Collaborative for Harnessing Ambition and Resources for Girls’ Education) — and CARE, Girl Rising, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., the Global Partnership for Education, the National Peace Corps Association, PBS LearningMedia, and the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up campaign.
"Every girl matters, and when she is given the opportunity to get an education, everyone in her life benefits," said Peace Corps director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. "Peace Corps volunteers live and work at the grassroots level and develop strong relationships with local change-makers, which uniquely positions them to serve as catalysts for this community-led change."