Thanks to Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) for the ‘Heads Up’ news on this new program for girls’ education that the President and the First Lady, along with the Peace Corps Director, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, will announce this Tuesday afternoon in the East Room of the White House. This program–Let Girls Learn–will help adolescent girls across the world receive an education.
The Let Girls Learn initiative will build on a United States Agency for International Development campaign launched last year to provide an education to the more than 60 million girls not in school. It focuses on empowerment and leadership, health and nutrition and protection against gender-based violence protection and forced marriages, among other issues.
The Peace Corps will look for ways to overcome the barriers that prevent girls from completing their educations, including the cost of a uniform, school fees, lack of textbooks, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet told reporters.
The organization’s nearly 7,000 volunteers in more than 60 developing countries already work with communities through grassroots training, Hessler-Radelet said.
“Peace Corps volunteers are in a unique position to break down barriers to girls education at the community level, working hand in hand with local leaders,” Hessler-Radelet said. “They speak the local language, they understand the local culture, they can catalyze lasting community lead change by helping communities themselves identify new opportunities to increase access to education and empower girls and young women.”
The program will start with 11 countries the first year: Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo and Uganda. More countries will be included the following year, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House.
The Obamas will officially announce the program Tuesday afternoon in the East Room of the White Hose.
Obama’s budget recommends $250 million in new and reallocated money for girls’ programs worldwide, including eduction, Mrs. Obama’s Chief of Staff Tina Tchen said.
USAID has already invested money to Let Girls Learn, part of $1 billion invested each year in education programs. The organization has helped train more than 300,000 teachers worldwide and provide more than 35 million textbooks and teaching material each year, said Susan Markham, USAID’s senior coordinator for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Markham said the program initiative is comprised of three main pillars:” increasing access to quality education, reducing barriers and empowering adolescent girls.
“Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women,” Markham said.
Gayle Smith, senior director for development and democracy for the National Security Council said improving girls education has a positive economic and stability impact and can widen the circle of potential leaders of a given country.
“Whether it is the girls kidnapped in Nigeria or whether it is the incidents of rape in Darfur there are real issues here attended to the rights and security of these young girls and young women so that’s another key focus for us throughout the initiative,” Smith told reporters.