Zonta International is a global organization of women and men dedicated to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center is a tool for our members in the United States and other individuals who share our commitment to gender equality to take action to improve the lives of women and girls. With your help, we can make a difference. In addition to the actions below, click here to support our joint efforts with UNICEF USA to end child marriage in the United States.
Adolescence is a critical period in a girl’s life, when significant physical, emotional and social changes shape her future. Girls who remain in school are more likely to live longer, marry later, earn better income to support their families, and help their local and national economies thrive. However, girls between the ages of 10 and 19 are three times more likely than boys to be kept out of school, particularly in countries affected by conflict. Due to discriminatory gender norms and expectations, disparities in access to safe and quality education manifest early in a girl’s life and continue to become more pronounced throughout adolescence.
The bipartisan Keeping Girls in School Act (H.R.4134 and S.2276) will advance access to quality education in underdeveloped countries by reducing the barriers that prevent girls from accessing secondary education. This includes obstacles like child marriage, religious or ethnic discrimination, female genital mutilation, and poor safety when traveling to and from school.
The Keeping Girls in School Act focuses on keeping girls in underdeveloped countries in school at the secondary level, a time when girls are most at risk of dropping out of school due to forced marriage, pregnancy and other family pressures. Specifically, the bill:
- Outlines and highlights a non-exhaustive list of 15 barriers that girls face in entering and remaining in secondary education institutions.
- Authorizes USAID to enter into new international development projects across sectors to reduce these barriers that adolescent girls face.
- Requires an updated U.S. global strategy to empower adolescent girls and that the strategy be reviewed and updated every five years.
On June 24, Senators Jeanne Shaheen [D-NH] and Lisa Murkowski [R-AK] reintroduced the Keeping Girls in School Act (S.2276) in the U.S. Senate, and Representatives Lois Frankel [D-FL] and Michael Waltz [R-FL] reintroduced the companion bill, H.R.4134, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please use our pre-drafted letters to urge your senators and representative to co-sponsor and support S.2276 and H.R.4134. If they have already sponsored or co-sponsored the bill, you can send a message of thanks.