Statement by USAID Administrator Mark Green on International Day of the Girl

For Immediate Release

Friday, October 11, 2019
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email:

Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrates the International Day of the Girl.

We know today's girls are tomorrow's leaders who will help create a more peaceful and prosperous world. Wherever USAID works, we are committed to helping girls realize their full potential and be empowered, capable leaders for future generations.

While teaching in rural Kenya, I was inspired by my students -- particularly girls -- who walked miles to attend class. There were never enough textbooks, and, during the rainy season, holes in our tin roof and glassless windows created a tough learning environment. Yet their determination to thrive, and their passion to accomplish their dreams, continues to be my inspiration today.

Safe, educated, and empowered young girls can transform our world. Research shows that girls who do not complete their secondary education represent a global loss in human capital wealth of $15-$30 trillion. However, full parity in years of education between girls and boys could add $28 trillion to the world's Gross Domestic Product by 2025.

Yet we know many girls around the world face enormous obstacles to realizing their potential -- lack of access to high-quality education and skills-training, poverty, negative societal norms, forced marriage, and gender-based violence are just some of the challenges young girls encounter. Child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) stifles girls' abilities to grow into empowered women who are able to better themselves, their families, and their communities. In Northeast Kenya, USAID is investing in local and international organizations to tackle the common root causes that drive CEFM by working with religious and traditional leaders, male and female youth champions, and clan leaders. For lasting and sustainable change, local communities must take the lead in ending harmful practices and elevating the value of girls.

Globally, 132 million girls are out of school. In conflict-affected countries, adolescent girls are particularly at risk -- 90 percent are likely to be out of secondary school. In Pakistan, where attacks on schools have disrupted many children's education -- particularly girls --USAID has worked with partners to reach roughly 800,000 girls with reading programs; enroll more than one million girls in schools in areas of the country affected by crisis and conflict; and build or rehabilitate more than 600 co-ed or girls' schools.

As outlined in the 2018 USAID Education Policy, USAID is working with governments, civil society, and the private sector in our partner countries to develop and enforce laws, policies, and procedures that promote equitable access between girls and boys, and greater educational outcomes for girls at all educational levels. An extra year of secondary school for girls can increase their future earnings by 10-20 percent. The positive effects of advancing girls' education are far-reaching, and create huge dividends for her life, her family and community, and her country.

At USAID, we are fully dedicated to working at all levels to help remove these barriers and challenges because a safe, educated girl is better able to guide her decision-making and determine her own life.

By working closely with partners such as the private sector, faith-based and local organizations, host governments, and academic institutions, USAID is building the capacity of the next generation of female leaders around the world. On the Journey to Self-Reliance, societies that prioritize, elevate, and empower girls create strong communities and long-lasting, positive change.

Last updated: June 17, 2020

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