USA: New Law Prioritizes Education for Refugee Girls

16 January 2019|Giulia McPherson, JRS/USA Director of Advocacy and Operations

Young women in South Sudan working on a writing assignment with the help of their teacher. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

On January 14, President Trump signed the “Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act” (S. 1580/ H.R. 2408) into law. This law will help refugees, especially girls, access safe and quality education.

Globally, refugee girls are only half as likely to be enrolled in secondary school than boys. When girls are not in school, they are more vulnerable to child marriage, early pregnancy, and human trafficking. This law will help ensure that the empowerment of every girl through education is a critical element of U.S. foreign assistance efforts as it authorizes the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to prioritize refugee education abroad.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in 2017. JRS supporters advocated on behalf of this bill in the previous Congress, which passed the bill in late 2018.

Through the Global Education Initiative, JRS places a special emphasis on increasing access to girls’ education, particularly during the transition between primary and secondary school. This is done by addressing the barriers that prevent girls from continuing their education and by implementing programs that ensure they succeed when they are in school.

The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act will ensure that the U.S. Government continues to work with multilateral, private and civil society organizations to improve access to education for refugee girls. Only by working together will we be able to provide the resources and attention necessary to make strides towards a quality education for all refugees.