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Supporting Education for Africa's Girls


FILE - A student raises her hand to ask a question during class at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya.

Let Girls Learn Initiative aims to address some of the many challenges preventing adolescent girls from attending and completing school.

To predict the future success of a nation, all you need to do is look at how it treats its women, said President Barack Obama recently during a speech before the African Union.

“Nobody would put out a football team and then just play half the team. You’d lose,” said President Obama. “The same is true when it comes to getting everybody an education. You can't leave half the team off -- our young women:”

“When girls cannot go to school and grow up not knowing how to read or write -- that denies the world future women engineers, future women doctors, future women business owners, future women presidents -- that sets us all back. That's a bad tradition -- not providing our girls the same education as our sons.”

That is why earlier this year, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let Girls Learn initiative. Through this program, a number of United States government agencies and non-governmental organizations, including the Department of State, US Agency for International Development, PEPFAR, the Peace Corps and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, work together to address some of the many challenges preventing adolescent girls from attending and completing school and receiving high quality education.

So for example, in Northern Nigeria, children displaced by conflict, especially adolescent girls, can continue their education at the newly developed “Learning Centers.” In Zimbabwe, through the Girls Empowerment Movement, Let Girls Learn helps establish clubs in schools that encourage girls to be educated and empowered decision-makers. And in Kenya, the Global Give Back Circle helps disadvantaged girls pursue their education from upper secondary to university and gain skills that help them secure jobs.

“From a political standpoint, and a security standpoint, places where women and girls are treated as full and equal citizens tend to be more stable, tend to be more democratic. So this is not just a humanitarian issue,” said President Obama. “This is an economic issue and it is a security issue. And that’s why it has to be a foreign policy priority.”

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