McMorris Rodgers, Trone Introduce Bipartisan Girls LEAD Act on International Women’s Day

Washington, D.C. (March 8, 2021) – Today on International Women’s Day, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Congressman David Trone (MD-06) introduced the bipartisan Girls Leadership, Engagement, Agency, and Development (LEAD) Act to promote girls’ leadership and participation in civic and political processes through U.S. foreign assistance.

“When women engage, democracies are stronger, foreign aid is more effective, and the world is safer. A truly representative government relies on the voices of all its citizens, no matter their background or walk of life,” said Rodgers. “The bipartisan Girls LEAD Act highlights the importance of engaging girls in civics and public service. This will help build a stronger pipeline for young women to run for political office and encourage them to seek leadership positions in the private sector. With more women empowered, it will support a new generation of transformational leaders in democracies around the world.”

“When women are in leadership positions around the world, we are better for it. Over this past year, we have seen the immense contributions of women leaders who have taken swift, decisive action in the face of COVID-19 to protect communities in the face of an unprecedented crisis,” said Trone. “This bipartisan bill prioritizes investment in girls’ interaction with civic systems at an early age, creating a strong pipeline for girls to become leaders and decision-makers for years to come. I want to thank Representative McMorris Rodgers and Senators Cardin and Collins for partnering in this bipartisan, bicameral effort on International Women’s Day.”

The Girls LEAD Act would require the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to:

  • Develop a united, comprehensive strategy on strengthening the participation of adolescent girls in democracy, human rights, and governance;
  • Prioritize foreign assistance funding made available for democracy, human rights and governance programs in programs that strengthen the participation of adolescent girls; 
  • Provide joint annual reporting to Congress on progress made by U.S. government agencies in support of this policy.
  • This bill is a companion to S.2766, introduced in the Senate by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). It has been endorsed by several organizations, including Save the Children and ChildFund International, Vital Voices, The Hunger Project, National Association Social Workers, Oxfam America, Girl Determined, GirlForward, International Action Network for Gender Equity & Law, CARE USA, Church World Service, National Democratic Institute (NDI), Feed the Children.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). It has been endorsed by several organizations, including Save the Children and ChildFund International, Vital Voices, The Hunger Project, and Church World Service.

You can read the entire bill text here.

Also today, McMorris Rodgers spoke at the International Women’s Day Event hosted by the ChildFund International and Save the Children to celebrate the introduction of the Girls LEAD Act. During her event, Cathy said the following:

“This legislation will set the world on a path where young women have more opportunities to become civically engaged, run for political office and seek leadership positions in the private sector. With more women empowered, we can support a new generation of transformational leaders in democracies around the world.

“By developing a whole of government approach, this legislation will help to strengthen the participation of adolescent girls in all aspects of civic life and prioritize foreign assistance to support them.

“However, there is still more work to be done to engage more young women. Around the world, research shows that when girls are engaged in civics at an early age, they are more likely to seek a leadership position in adulthood. 

“Additionally, we have seen the real, positive results of elevating women to positions of leadership. Research has shown higher numbers of women in elected office is correlated with an increase in overall public health indicators. We’ve also seen how increased political participation of women leads to increased likelihood of resolving national crises without resorting to violence.  

“When we empower young girls to rise, the possibilities are endless. I truly believe that, and I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to help each and every young girl pursue their dreams.

“Last year, I met with the Girl Scouts national organization. When I was asked about what advice I had for these young girls, I said “live courageously, follow your hearts, see your own potential, and be risk takers.” 

“Too many girls around the world never hear those words. See your own potential. Take risks Follow your heart. Together, we must work to change that. We must dare our next generation of young women to be bold; to chase their dreams and never give up.”

*Remarks as prepared for delivery.

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