The COVID-19 pandemic has affected communities and individuals across the globe, but research has shown a disproportionate impact towards girls and women. Approximately 743 million girls have found themselves out of school since the pandemic. This is not a new issue – according to the United Nations, 33% of girls living in extreme poverty had never received a formal education before the pandemic even started – but this number has risen in the past year and a half especially. Lack of schooling for girls and women at a young age leads to higher rates of child marriages as well as more instances of abuse throughout their life. Encouraging girls to become engaged in civic life, and promoting education from a young age, can heavily influence the statistics mentioned above.
I urge legislators to support the Girls LEAD Act. This act enforces a strategy to be made by the U.S. Department of State to increase girls’ participation and leadership in civic life; lower rates of abuse towards women, as well as economic growth globally, will show the positive difference that will come as a result of empowering women and encouraging them into leadership roles.
As a woman, it is important to invest in the futures of other girls and women around the world. The Borgen Project supports the Girls LEAD Act, and I hope you will too.
Grand Rapids, Mich.