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Marco Rubio bill to protect girls’ learning access heads to president

The U.S. House threw its support behind legislation aimed at protecting education access for young girls displaced around the world.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, sponsored the companion Senate bill in 2017 and urged President Donald Trump to sign the Girls Count Act into law.

“Millions of people are displaced globally due to ongoing conflicts and humanitarian crises leaving children, particularly girls, vulnerable and unable to access a quality basic education,” Rubio said.

“Education is critical to ensuring children have an opportunity to succeed and contribute to their communities. I hope President Trump will sign our bill quickly and solidify U.S. commitments to ensuring that all children have access to a primary or secondary education, whatever their gender and wherever they live.”

Rubio introduced the bipartisan legislation with New Jersey Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.

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The legislation directs that the United States partner with public and private multilateral institutions around the globe to guarantee that an estimated 4 million primary and secondary school-aged children continue to have access to education resources.

It’s not just about the value of learning, sponsors say. Girls who lose access to education face a higher risk of trafficking through child marriage, sexual exploitation and economic disenfranchisement.

Part of the policy directive in the bill includes further study of the impact of any education programs on reducing exposure to these trafficking threats. After five years, a report on enrollment and benefits will be produced and the success of the program evaluated.

U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, an Ohio Democrat, shepherded the House version of the bill and said it would be valuable to make the broadly supported legislation law.

“”As a father, grandfather and former teacher, I am pleased to see this important bipartisan legislation is on its way to becoming law,” Chabot said.

“Members from both parties, and both chambers, came together to make sure that girls around the world, displaced by conflicts, have the opportunity to receive an education. I introduced this legislation, because education puts girls on the path to success, and helps protect them from trafficking, child marriage, and poverty. And by prioritizing education in our international assistance programs, this bill paves the way for a more peaceful and stable life for displaced girls around the world.”

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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