The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on how we approach education on a global scale.
Nearly 743 million girls have been pushed out of school due to the pandemic, which is in addition to the 132 million girls between the ages of 6 and 17 who are not enrolled in school. This put 2.5 million girls at risk of child marriage before 2025, in addition to the 12 million girls who are forced into child marriages annually. For each year of continued education, the likelihood of child marriage decreases by 5%.
Additionally, women are consistently underrepresented in government and decision-making. Despite making up over half of the world’s population, only 24.5% of all national parliamentarians are women. At the current rate, it will take more than 100 years to achieve equal gender representation.
Research shows that including women in decision-making decreases corruption, enhances stability, and promotes higher standards in education and healthcare. The Girls LEAD Act (H.R. 1661 / S. 634) will identify and address gaps in access to political participation and civic engagement for women worldwide, support girl-led and girl-focused civil organizations, and engage girls under 18 in political participation. Thank you to Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers for co-sponsoring this legislation, and I encourage Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to follow her example.