On average, most Americans believe 25% of the U.S. budget goes toward federal aid when, in reality, less than 1% is spent. International development is clearly an afterthought in this sense. Allocating more money toward foreign aid actually increases our own national security and domestic economic development.
The Girls LEAD Act (Leadership, Engagement, Agency and Development) is a bill that will increase the civic and political leadership of adolescent girls and make girls’ leadership a priority for U.S. foreign assistance efforts. With 132 million 6- to 17-year-old girls not enrolled in school, girls do not receive the education they deserve and are underrepresented on the political level. Currently, globally, only 24.5% of national parliamentarians are women, meaning female needs are rarely recognized globally. Girls continue to be excluded, but supporting girls’ participation in political arenas increases cooperation, stability, living standards and democratic societies.
I want to thank Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for already co-sponsoring the Girls LEAD Act. She clearly is striving to create an equitable world for girls. I urge Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell to co-sponsor the Girls LEAD act.