By Staff Writer Katherine Guo
MSJ Girl Up members recently visited CA District 17 Congressman Ro Khanna’s office in Santa Clara to lobby for the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act, H.R. 2408. They organized two meetings, one with Representative Khanna’s staffer on May 3 and one with Representative Khanna himself on May 8.
Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign, works to empower and encourage girls across the world in order to create strong female leaders. One of their current projects focuses on working across the country to gain sponsors for the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act and encouraging congressmen to vote for it on the congressional floor. Because the bill requires a certain minimum number of co-sponsors in order to pass, Girl Up had a target of 30 co-sponsors over the past year, and they are currently approaching their goal. Individual clubs such as MSJ’s Girl Up lobby their district representatives to support the bill when it is on the congressional floor by asking the representatives to dedicate a portion of their speaking time to promoting the bill and encouraging their fellow representatives to vote for it.
The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act, first introduced to the House of Representatives on May 11, is intended to protect the educational rights of displaced girls and women overseas. Most of the displaced girls are also subject to violence and abuse resulting from the conflicts in their regions, which puts them at a socioeconomic disadvantage. If passed, the bill would make access to education for refugee children one of the US foreign policy priorities. Part of the bill text says, “Education offers socioeconomic opportunities, psychological stability, and physical protection for displaced people, particularly for displaced women and girls …” The US would help increase safe access to primary and secondary education and contribute to already established programs dedicated to helping displaced children.
During the meeting, Representative Khanna expressed his support for the bill. Girl Up President Junior Lavanya Singh said, “Fortunately, he supported the bill and seemed really excited about it. Just the fact that he offered to introduce it [the bill] and offered to make himself the main supporter of the bill meant a lot.” Members of Girl Up had also written letters and emails to both Representative Khanna’s district and Washington, D.C. offices regarding the bill, culminating in the two meetings. Looking towards the future, Singh said that Girl Up will continue with follow up meetings and emails to Representative Khanna in order to follow the progress of the bill through Congress.
Photos Courtesy MSJ Girl Up