October 11, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the White House commemorates International Day of the Girl by celebrating the leadership of young women worldwide and addressing the challenges that hinder their full participation in society, according to a White House Statement. The Biden-Harris Administration unveiled a series of new initiatives and investments designed to empower girls at home and abroad, emphasizing education, safety, and overall well-being.
The “Girls Leading Change” celebration, hosted by First Lady Jill Biden at the White House, marks the Administration’s commitment to acknowledging the significant impact young women have on their communities throughout the United States. The event spotlights 15 exceptional young female leaders, chosen by the White House Gender Policy Council, who are driving change and shaping a brighter future for generations to come.
The Administration’s focus is on eliminating barriers to girls’ success, ensuring freedom from discrimination, violence, and intimidation, and advancing their education, health, and well-being. The recent announcements include:
- Accelerating Learning, Improving Student Achievement, and Canceling Student Debt: The Department of Education announced measures to bolster K-12 public schools, with investments in literacy programs and educator diversity. Over $127 billion in student debt cancellation for 3.6 million Americans has also been approved, making higher education more accessible.
- Supporting Youth Mental Health: The Department of Health and Human Services earmarked $206 million in grants to enhance youth mental health services, particularly for teenage girls, improving access to prevention and treatment.
- Preventing Gun Violence: The Administration is committed to reducing gun violence, especially among children and teenagers, with $4.4 billion in Department of Justice grants and the establishment of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
- Improving Child Nutrition and Expanding School Meals: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding the Community Eligibility Provision to provide free breakfast and lunch to students in high-need areas, eliminating school meal debt and enhancing food security.
- Launching the American Climate Corps: President Biden’s American Climate Corps creates opportunities for over 20,000 Americans, including underrepresented women and girls, to access training for careers in the clean energy sector.
- Protecting Children from Air Pollution: The Environmental Protection Agency is investing over $500 million to improve air quality around schools by transforming school bus fleets.
- Supporting Military-Connected Public-School Districts: Over $73 million in funding was announced to enhance educational opportunities for military-connected students, benefiting over 200,000 students.
- Supporting Vulnerable Youth: New rules from HHS aim to enhance equity in the child welfare system, including support for LGBTQI+ children in foster care. The Department of Labor has cooperative agreements to improve youth employment outcomes, especially for underserved communities.
- Closing the Gender Digital Divide: The U.S. Agency for International Development launched the Women in the Digital Economy Initiative with over $515 million in contributions to expand access to digital learning opportunities for women and girls.
The Administration’s new actions further emphasize their commitment to empowering young people, both domestically and abroad. These initiatives include:
- Advancing Girls’ Education Globally: USAID is investing $20.6 million in education initiatives in Nepal and Comoros, promoting equitable education, reintegration of out-of-school children, and civic participation for girls and young women.
- Promoting STEM Skills and Girls’ Leadership: Efforts in Côte d’Ivoire and Timor-Leste are supporting girls’ access to STEM education and careers.
- Securing Access to Green Jobs: USAID is launching a $737,000 pilot initiative to create more green jobs in sectors like food and agriculture, benefiting young women and enhancing climate resilience.
- Mitigating the Effects of Climate Change: USAID and the United Kingdom’s FCDO are contributing up to $3.8 million to the Climate Action Partnership for Education to address the impact of climate change on girls’ education.
- Empowering Girls Globally: The Department of State is investing $3.4 million in the SHE’s GREAT initiative to challenge harmful gender norms affecting youth well-being.
- Consulting Girls to Improve School Safety: The Department of Education is seeking input from girls ages 16 to 18 to enhance school safety and prevent gender-based violence.
- Empowering Girls in STEM Careers: NASA is launching a graphic novel series to inspire girls to pursue STEM careers.
Safety and well-being are also paramount, with measures such as:
- Promoting Efforts to End Child Marriage Globally: USAID and the Department of State are investing in programs to prevent and respond to child, early, and forced marriage, equipping girls and young women with education and workforce readiness skills.
- Addressing Girls’ Risk of HIV/AIDS: The PEPFAR program is expanding its DREAMS partnership to reach more adolescent girls and young women with HIV prevention services.
- Reducing Risk for Girls in the Juvenile Justice System: The Department of Justice is allocating over $4 million to enhance early intervention programs and treatment services for girls in the juvenile justice system.
- Fostering Resilience and Awareness of Online Harassment and Abuse: HHS is launching new grants to increase youth awareness of and resilience against trafficking-related online harassment and abuse.
- Preventing and Ending Youth Homelessness: HHS is launching the Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Demonstration Program, supporting initiatives to prevent youth homelessness.
Numerous non-profit and private sector stakeholders are also announcing new actions to encourage girls to pursue STEM education and careers.
- Empowering Girls to Shape the Future of AI: Girls Who Code introduces the GirlJams.ai campaign to spark interest in computer science for 200,000 students.
- Expanding STEM Career Pathways for Girls: Career Girls is expanding the Career Girls Club program in schools nationwide to support STEM career exploration.
- Encouraging Innovation and Empowering Girls in the Toy Industry: Hasbro is launching the Girl Innovators of Play initiative in partnership with Girl Up to bridge the gender gap in STEM.
- Expanding STEM Programming in Tribal Communities: Dell Technologies, in partnership with Hesperus, is expanding the Girls Who Game program within the San Carlos Apache community.