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International Day of the Girl

Editor’s Note: This press statement by Secretary of State, John Kerry, includes information about PEPFAR’s DREAMS initiative to support adolescent girls in sub-saharan Africa.

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 11, 2016

The State Department is deeply committed to protecting and strengthening the rights of girls worldwide, and on this fifth annual International Day of the Girl, we recognize that addressing the distinct challenges facing girls, particularly adolescent girls, is critical to our ability to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals, including gender equality.

Poverty, gender-based violence, a lack of education, and barriers to equal opportunity are only a few issues on a long list for adolescent girls around the world. But the range of challenges girls must overcome are challenges we all must overcome in order to advance global peace, prosperity, and security.

That’s why the United States has led the world in making adolescent girls a priority in our foreign policy and programs. Earlier this year, I launched the first U.S. strategy focused on this age group—a policy supported by both programs and resources. For example, USAID and the State Department are investing $25 million in Malawi and Tanzania as part of the Let Girls Learn initiative to promote safety, health, and education for adolescent girls. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is investing over $85 million through its DREAMS partnership and the DREAMS Innovation Challenge to help adolescent girls transition to secondary school and complete their education in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Malawi and Tanzania. And this year, the Department is investing more than $10 million in new programs for adolescent girls around the world. Thanks to that funding, we’re expanding access to services for adolescent girls who have survived gender-based violence in Honduras and access to leadership opportunities for girls in this age group in Thailand, among other meaningful projects.

Today I am pleased to announcing that the Department will also dedicate more than a half million dollars to work with organizations on the ground in at least seven countries to tackle female genital mutilation and cutting.

But we cannot do this work alone. Partnerships are critical to success, which is why other governments, the private sector, civil society, and girls and their families are part of our efforts. In this spirit, the State Department recently launched #DadsAndDaughters, a campaign focused on how dads can advance gender equality through their personal relationships.

As a father of two daughters and a grandfather to four girls, I have seen time and again how men can take action to support the women and girls in their lives, and it’s clear from this campaign that I am not alone.

Every year, International Day of the Girl reminds us that we too must care about the future of girls around the world, because it is a future we share with them. Today, we renew both our commitment to girls’ rights and our call for others to join us in ensuring that girls anywhere and everywhere reach their full potential.