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Presidents of the UN Foundation and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF: Girls Count Bill Passed in U.S. House of Representatives Today Will Advance the Rights of Girls around the World

November 19, 2014

Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, and Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, released the following joint statement on the House passage of the Girls Count Act of 2014 (H.R. 3398). This legislation supports programs in developing countries that improve birth registration for girls and boys, and promotes policies that prevent discrimination against girls.

 “By passing the Girls Count Act of 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives sent a strong message that adolescent girls around the world deserve to be recognized, their rights must be protected, and the United States should play a leadership role in working toward these goals.

 “We commend Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) for introducing the Girls Count Act, and we applaud Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce (R-CA), for his leadership on the passage of the bill.

 “Since the Girls Count Act was introduced last year, hundreds of thousands of people across the United States have called on, written to, and met with their elected officials, urging them to pass the bill. Through the Girl Up campaign and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, this nationwide movement of girl advocates raised their voices and their members of Congress listened.   

 “U.S. leadership is critical to making progress for girls and for the world. Globally, 290 million children do not have birth certificates. Lack of documentation prevents girls and women from officially participating in and benefiting from the formal economic, legal, and political systems in their countries.

 “Today, we moved one step closer to helping millions of adolescent girls worldwide realize their most basic human rights. Equipped with a birth certificate, a girl is more likely to have access to education, health and social services, and later in life she will have a greater chance of working and owning land.

 “Girls are one of the world's most powerful catalysts for change. When we enable girls to lead, they can create a more stable, peaceful, and prosperous world – benefiting Americans and people everywhere."