Ask: Department of State and USAID, release a congressional report on the Girls Count Act!

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Dear Administrator Green and Secretary Pompeo, 

Safe spaces are critical for girls to thrive. One of the first steps to ensuring girls have access to safe spaces is birth registration. Even though most countries do have birth registration laws, approximately 25 percent of children under five have never been officially registered, according to UNICEF. When a girl is denied a birth certificate, she is invisible to her government. A lack of documentation can prevent a girl from going to school, getting a job later in life, and accessing health and social services. A lack of formal education often relegates girls to work in the informal sector, which can be an unsafe environment both physically and psychologically.

In June 2015, the Girls Count Act was approved unanimously by Congress and subsequently signed into law by former President Barack Obama. The bill authorizes the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to coordinate their efforts with multilateral organizations, the private sector, and civil society organizations to support the counting of girls in developing countries. Documentation is required to obtain property rights, social security, home ownership, land tenure security, inheritance rights, access to education, and economic and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Though this bill has been passed by Congress, we will not know the impact of the law until a report has been released by the Department of State or USAID. Section 5 of the Girls Count Act sets forth the following requirement:

“The Secretary and the Administrator shall include in relevant evaluations and reports to Congress the following information:                        
(1) To the extent practicable, a breakdown of United States foreign assistance beneficiaries by age, gender, marital status, location, and school enrollment status.                
(2) A description, as appropriate, of how United States foreign assistance benefits girls.        
(3) Specific information, as appropriate, on programs that address the particular needs of girls.”

If you agree that the Department of State and USAID should prioritize a report to Congress on the impact of foreign aid on women and girls, please sign this petition and share it with everyone you know. The longer this report is delayed, the longer women and girls will be unable to benefit from formal economic, legal, and political sectors in their countries--rights that originate with registration at birth.

 

 



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