There are 62 million girls around the world not enrolled in school, and millions more are fighting to stay in the classroom and continue their path to academic success. Thankfully, they’re not alone in their struggle for an education.
Let Girls Learn is a new initiative launched by the United States Government and led by USAID to allow the public to help girls across the globe get the quality education they covet most. “All girls should have the freedom to learn,” said “Dawson’s Creek” heartthrob James Van Der Beek in the two-minute PSA that premiered Friday, and that’s exactly what Let Girls Learn is campaigning for today.
“A threat to girls’ education anywhere is a threat to progress everywhere,” ‘added “Modern Family” star Julie Bowen. It’s time to let them learn.
The more than 20 actors, athletes and other celebrities were interested in making the video alongside the U.S. government after the recent kidnapping of hundreds of young girls in Nigeria who were in the midst of preparing for their final exams at boarding school. The story took over newspaper headlines, an event reminiscent of the 2012 attempted assassination of Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, highlighting the concern for girls who often have to face harassment, discrimination, threats and violence just to get an education. But that shouldn’t be the way the world works. Girls should not have to live in fear in order to learn.
There’s hope for the future, though. USAID announced Friday $231.6 million for new programs to support primary and secondary education as well as safe learning in Nigeria, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Jordan to improve academic conditions for girls. The funding will also go toward support for Guatemala’s efforts to better the quality of education for under-served populations.
The fight for an equal right to education for girls will wage on as more and more people begin to realize that educating girls is one of the best investments we can make. Research shows that an educated girl has a ripple effect on her family and society alike. One more year of education, USAID says, can increase a woman’s income by up to 25 percent. Did you also know that a girl who has a basic education is actually three times less likely to contract HIV?
It’s time to stop asking why we should let girls learn, and instead act. We could be saving 1.8 million lives each year if all women in sub-Saharan Africa had a secondary education. Crop yields could increase by 25 percent in Kenya if all of the country’s girls attended primary school. Add that to the fact that countries where women hold more than 30 percent of seats in politics are more inclusive, egalitarian and democratic and you’ve got yourself a case for improving academic access to girls across the world.
You can make a difference, each celebrity featured in the video says. You should act, they continue, “because a girl with a book and a girl with a microscope and a girl with a hard hat and a girl with a gavel are the leaders and peacemakers of tomorrow. Let girls learn.”
To learn more about how you can help the Let Girls Learn initiative, check out the USAID website here.