JRS/USA Honors Congresswoman Nita Lowey Honored for Lasting Legacy on Global Education

09 October 2020

On October 9, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and others from the global education community honored Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and her legacy of improving education around the world. Among her many achievements, Congresswoman Lowey led international education funding increases and authored the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act, which was signed into law in 2017 and established access to quality basic education in developing countries as a key objective of U.S. foreign policy. Congresswoman Lowey will be retiring at the end of this session after 32 years in the U.S. Congress.

A diverse array of advocates, stakeholders and beneficiaries offered remarks and accolades at this virtual event moderated by Raj Kumar, President & Editor-in-Chief at Devex.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai reflected on her first meeting with Congresswoman Lowey on Capitol Hill in 2017 and feeling encouraged by the Congresswoman’s advocacy for girls’ education. “We discussed the barriers that prevent more than 130 million girls from their education and also talked about what we can do to ensure all girls can go to school. I left that room with hope. There are still so many things that need to be done. We need to ensure change in the education system, in the economies, in the political system that we live in, so it works for girls, not against them.”

Congresswoman Lowey’s fellow Members of Congress joined to share their memories of working alongside the congresswoman. The bipartisan group featured numerous State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Members, including Rep. Frankel (D-FL), Rep. Meng (D-NY), Rep. Lee (D-CA), Rep. Price (D-NC), and Rep. Torres (D-CA), as well as Rep. Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT).

Joan Rosenhauer, JRS/USA Executive Director, thanked Congresswoman Lowey for her leadership and for her particular attention to refugee children, saying “Rep. Lowey, you and your staff have been critical partners in JRS’s work to ensure that all refugee children have access to a quality education. Of the 7.4 million school-aged refugees in the world today, only 52 percent of them are in school. Although we have much more work to do, this number increased over the years thanks to your efforts and the efforts of other global education champions around the world.”

As the event concluded, Congresswoman Lowey imparted these final words, “I can’t tell you how much this means to me, I am so touched and honored. I would especially like to thank my colleagues…but none of the achievements were made alone. Everyone here today cares deeply about ensuring that children everywhere have an opportunity to receive a good education. All of us have kept the momentum going in this effort. I am so grateful for the work that all who appeared today do and continue to do. Although I’m retiring I will continue to champion global education.”

The global education community will miss her greatly in Congress and will strive to continue her work to provide access to a quality education for all.

Event sponsors were the Basic Education Coalition, Education Cannot Wait, Global Campaign for Education-US, Global Citizen, Global Partnership for Education, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Malala Fund, RESULTS, Save the Children, UNICEF USA, World Learning and World Vision US.