Put The Senate's Protecting Girls' Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act to Vote

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As an 8th grade student at Duke School in North Carolina, I am conducting an independent project on girls’ education, the issues facing it, possible solutions and the resulting potential for girls’ education to improve the world.  During my research, I was surprised to discover Bill S. 1580, also known as the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act, which has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.  If passed, this bill would prompt foreign aid to the refugee camps to ensure safe primary and secondary education for students, help build more schools for the refugee children or increase the capacity of existing schools so the students have classrooms, and help increase access of refugee children, especially girls, to education, economic, and business opportunities.

 

The committee asks for comments from relevant groups or agencies on the proposed legislation, holds hearings with experts on the topic who are not committee members to determine the merit of the bill, and perfects the legislation through amendments to make sure that the purpose is clear and understood.  After these requirements are met, you send it back to the Senate for debate on the bill. This, as I understand, takes no small amount of time.


The fact is, 50% of the children in the refugee camps are not receiving an education, and this is not an issue that can be lightly postponed.  I am a concerned citizen who believes it necessary to pass this bill to ensure a stable and well provided life for the refugee children, especially girls.


One of the largest obstacles between a girl getting an education and consequences of girls not receiving a full education is child marriage.  Child marriage will cost the world trillions of dollars by 2030, a fact that can change with more widespread education for girls. This is a pressing issue in the refugee camps, where parents will marry their daughters off for the dowry to try and make ends meet, and in any area where conflict or natural disasters have forced people to migrate or have caused major loss of monetary resources.  If widespread girls’ education in the refugee camps can be increased, child marriage levels will inevitably fall, and with it, girls will lead healthier lives, have higher wages, provide better for their eventual children, be more likely to send their kids to school, and in the long run, have fewer children.


Women and girls having fewer children also directly correlates to lower population growth. With a decrease in population growth, we can better hope to find pathways to mitigate climate change, starting with better education of the world’s population on what impacts their actions have on the environment, such as in the usage of air polluting or fossil fuels.  Along with this, there is a link to more widespread girls education leading to more women taking more prominent roles in their societies, and therefore their governments. It has been proven that women are more likely to support legislation on sustainability and climate change prevention tactics, which would aid and improve our world if girls received a more widespread education, especially in the refugee camps where there are so many young, undoubtedly brilliant girls.  


In the refugee camps, there also exists large scale poverty, making it hard for families to make ends meet.  If girls complete their full education, they would be able to earn higher wages, effectively lifting themselves and their families out of poverty, giving them the ability to move out of the refugee camps and into a safer, more supportive environment.  This can also help stall climate change by giving families the monetary resources to choose cleaner forms of fuel and energy that are not draining or polluting to the environment, as well as giving them the resources to provide better education for their children.   


The committee holds the power to ensure that thousands of girls will receive a quality education and go on to change the world for the better, by supporting the bill and making sure it goes back to the Senate for a full vote.  By doing this, they can help eradicate large scale poverty in the refugee camps, prevent girls from becoming child brides, open up mitigation pathways for climate change, and ensure that following generations will also receive a quality education.  If you wish to examine the reports and articles that I drew my information from, please visit Girls Not Brides, the World Bank Group: Girls’ Education, Girl Up: Education for Refugees, and the Brookings Institute: Three Platforms for Girls’ Education in Climate Strategies.

Photo credit to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees- Sebastian Rich



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