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Artists, Athletes, Businesses, USAID Urge ‘Let Girls Learn’
June 24, 2014

Two girls sit in a classroom
As part of the Let Girls Learn effort, USAID is providing support for Jordanian schools as they provide education to Syrian refugees like these girls.

23 June 2014

Nearly 30 artists and athletes, as well as a host of global nonprofit groups and businesses, have joined with the U.S. government to launch Let Girls Learn, an effort to raise awareness of the need to support all girls in their pursuit of a quality education.

Celebrities Alicia Keys, Amy Brenneman, Anne Hathaway, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, DeAndre Jordan, Denise Richards, Diego Boneta, James Van Der Beek, Jennifer Garner, Joe Manganiello, Josh Duhamel, Julie Bowen, Julie Delpy, Kelly Osbourne, Lance Bass, Moby, Nick Cannon, Nikki Reed, Paul Wesley, Rita Wilson, Shonda Rhimes, Soledad O’Brien, Susan Sarandon and Tyler Perry spoke in a video about the importance of educating girls.

In support of Let Girls Learn, USAID on June 20 announced $231.6 million for new programs to support primary and secondary education and safe learning in Nigeria, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Jordan, as well as support for Guatemala’s ongoing successful efforts to improve the quality of education for underserved populations.

“When girls are educated, their families are healthier, they marry later and they have more opportunities to generate income,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “When girls are denied an education, humanity suffers. Let Girls Learn is a movement to tell the world that an educated girl has the power to lift her family and her community out of poverty. It is time for all of us to stand up and support a quality education for girls and boys alike all over the world.”

Organizations partnering with Let Girls Learn include CARE; the International Rescue Committee; Save the Children; the Burkle Global Impact Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Child Fund.

According to USAID, 62 million girls around the world are not in school. Millions more are fighting to stay there. Some may be growing up in a war. Some may have been married or become pregnant as a young teen. Their families may depend on their income. They may lack access to a safe place to learn, facing harassment, abuse and discrimination. If they can get to a school — sometimes walking for hours each way — the girls may not have access to proper hygiene facilities.

The U.S. government is committed to improving opportunities for all children in low-income countries to receive a quality education and obtain the skills they need to live healthy and productive lives, USAID said in a press release. This includes an average annual investment of $1 billion by USAID in international education efforts to ensure equitable treatment of boys and girls, to create safe school environments and to engage communities in support for girls’ education.

According to USAID, educating girls has a ripple effect:

• One more year of education increases a woman’s income by up to 25 percent.

• A girl who has a basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV.

• Children born to educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past the age of 5.

• If all women in sub-Saharan Africa had a secondary education, 1.8 million lives would be saved each year.

• After looking at 100 countries, the World Bank found that increasing the share of women with a secondary education by 1 percent boosts annual per capita income growth by 0.3 percentage points.

• Countries where women’s share of seats in political bodies are greater than 30 percent are more inclusive, egalitarian and democratic.

More information about what the U.S. government is doing to support girls’ education all over the world is available in a USAID fact sheet and a USAID webpage on Let Girls Learn.