First Lady announces joint US-UK effort on education for girls

17 Jun 15

US First Lady Michelle Obama announced yesterday a $200m plan to educate young girls in developing countries, warning that it was now a “serious public health issue”.

Attending Mulberry School for Girls in east London on Tuesday, she talked about the “heartbreaking” injustice of the more than 62 million girls around the world who are out of school.

Obama said the US and UK planned to work together to improve access to education for adolescent girls in poor countries.

“This is not just a moral issue — it is a serious public health issue,” she told pupils at the Tower Hamlets school ahead of a trip to Downing Street.

She also announced that the UK would be backing her Let Girls Learn initiative that ensures adolescent girls get the education they need in countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In addition, the US and British development agencies – US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) – will collaborate on evidence-based research to determine the best ways to educate girls, as well as support teacher training, girls leadership camps, and other community-based programmes in developing countries.

“Combined, these efforts total nearly $200m — but, given the scope of this challenge, even that is nowhere near sufficient. Girls’ education is a global issue that requires a global solution,” she said.

“Girls who attend secondary school marry and have children later, have lower rates of maternal and infant mortality and HIV/Aids, and are more likely to immunise their children. It is a national security issue, as education is one of the best weapons we have in the fight against violent extremism. And girls’ education is an urgent economic issue.”

In March, the First Lady travelled to Japan to announce a similar partnership between the US and Japan to help girls worldwide attend school.

DFID’s international development secretary Justine Greening, who welcomed Obama to London, also spoke to pupils at the school about the importance of education for both girls and boys.

She said it was a “tragedy” that there are millions of children in the world who have never been to school, while some don’t make it to secondary school.

Greening added that DFID was committed to continue supporting 11 million children in developing countries through school over the next five years.

  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Public Finance International and Public Finance. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

Did you enjoy this article?

Related articles

Have your say

CIPFA latest