STATEMENT BY USAID ACTING ADMINISTRATOR JOHN BARSA
On October 11, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) joins the world in celebrating the International Day of the Girl. Global prosperity and the Journey to Self-Reliance start with prioritizing and empowering girls so they can thrive and succeed and make a long-lasting positive impact on their own future, as well as on their families, communities, and countries.
Globally, girls encounter many constraints that limit their ability to gain access to high-quality education and health care, avoid early marriage, live a life free from violence, and exercise their own voice. To achieve our collective goal of creating a peaceful and prosperous world, we must help ensure all girls are educated, healthy, and safe so they can participate fully in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of their communities. Research shows that most women who become leaders in their communities started engaging in education and leadership activities during adolescence.
A great example is Laxmi Koirala, who has worked to combat gender-based violence (GBV) and human trafficking in her community in Surkhet, in the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Four years ago, Laxmi participated in USAID’s Stop Girl Trafficking Program and became a teacher trainee. She traveled to nearby villages to meet with families to reduce early marriage, domestic violence, human trafficking, and child labor, through education, awareness, community-engagement, and counseling. The program has educated nearly 13,000 Nepali girls and women, and provided scholarships that enabled 3,800 girls from low-income families to enroll in school. Today, 18-year-old Laxmi is thriving as a university student and pursuing a career in banking, but her true mission is to keep girls and women in her community safe from harm.
USAID is building the capacity of the next generation of female leaders around the world. Only by investing in girls-and engaging women, men, and boys as advocates and champions – can we increase girls’ opportunities to achieve their dreams.
On October 11, the International Day of the Girl, we highlight our commitments to human life and dignity, upholding the God-given rights of all, and working to ensure that every girl is born into a world in which she is free to live her life to the fullest.