The White House is marking International Day of the Girl—a moment to celebrate the leadership of girls around the world and to recognize the barriers that continue to limit their full participation. The Biden-Harris Administration is also announcing new actions that build on our investment in young people and expand opportunity for girls both at home and abroad.
This afternoon, First Lady Jill Biden will host the first-ever “Girls Leading Change” celebration at the White House to recognize the profound impact young women are having on their communities across the United States. The event will honor 15 young women leaders, selected by the White House Gender Policy Council, who are leading change and shaping a brighter future for generations to come.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that girls can pursue their dreams free from discrimination, violence, or intimidation and to advancing the safety, education, health, and wellbeing of girls everywhere. Investing in our children means investing in our future—and every young person should have the opportunity and resources they need to succeed.
That’s why, just in the last month, the Biden-Harris Administration announced important actions, including:
- Accelerating Learning, Improving Student Achievement, and Canceling Student Debt. The Department of Education (ED) announced new actions to build on the Administration’s historic investment in K-12 public schools, including by investing in literacy interventions and supports and building a diverse educator workforce. In addition, the Biden-Harris Administration has so far approved $127 billion in student debt cancellation for nearly 3.6 million Americans, helping to make college more affordable and ensuring that student loans aren’t a barrier to opportunity for students and families.
- Supporting Youth Mental Health. The Administration is making historic investments to support youth mental health, including among teen girls. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced $206 million in grant awards towards youth mental health, which together will help expand access to mental health services for students in schools and improve access to mental health prevention and treatment for children and youth in communities across the country.
- Preventing Gun Violence. Tragically, gun violence is the leading killer of children and teenagers in the United States. The Biden-Harris Administration believes this is unacceptable, and recently announced new action to support community safety, reduce violent crime, prevent gun violence, and keep our kids safe in and out of school with $4.4 billion in Department of Justice grants. President Biden also recently announced the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
- Improving Child Nutrition and Expanding School Meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it is giving an estimated 3,000 more school districts in high-need areas the option to serve breakfast and lunch to all students at no cost, by expanding the availability of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP helps lower food costs for families, increases food and nutrition security, and eliminates school meal debt.
- Launching the American Climate Corps. Through the Investing in America agenda, President Biden launched the American Climate Corps, which will mobilize a new, diverse generation of more than 20,000 Americans and create pathways for young people to access the skills-based training necessary for good-paying careers in the clean energy and climate resilient economy, where women and girls have historically been underrepresented.
- Protecting Children from Air Pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency made at least $500 million in funding available through the Clean School Bus rebate competition, which is protecting children from air pollution by transforming school bus fleets across America and builds on the Administration’s previous nearly $1 billion investment to improve air quality in and around schools.
- Supporting Military-Connected Public-School Districts. Earlier this month, the Department of Defense announced over $73 million in funding to enhance and expand educational opportunities for military-connected students, the largest single-year Department of Defense Education Activity grant investment in over a decade, which will impact over 200,000 students.
- Supporting Vulnerable Youth. HHS issued a landmark package of new rules to enhance equity in the child welfare system and advance the safety and wellbeing of families across the country, including for LGBTQI+ children in foster care. Also last month, the Department of Labor announced new cooperative agreements to support disabled youth employment initiatives and improve outcomes for youth with disabilities, especially those from underserved communities.
- Accelerating Progress to Close the Gender Digital Divide. To help fulfill the historic commitment of G20 Leaders to halve the digital gender gap by 2030, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Women in the Digital Economy Initiative, which brings together governments, private sector companies, foundations, civil society, and multilateral organizations to accelerate progress towards the closure of the gender digital divide, with contributions totaling over $515 million. This initiative will expand women and girls’ access to digital learning opportunities that address critical employment and educational skill gaps.
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking additional steps that build on our investment in young people and expand opportunity for girls both at home and abroad.
We are expanding education and leadership opportunities by:
- Advancing Girls’ Education Globally. USAID supports programs in more than 50 countries to promote girls’ education. To expand and continue this work, USAID will invest $20.6 million in new education initiatives in Nepal and Comoros focused on improving equitable education outcomes for marginalized youth, supporting local governments to bring out-of-school children back into school, and promoting civic participation of girls and young women through education, democracy camps, and service-learning opportunities.
- Promoting STEM Skills and Girls’ Leadership. In Côte d’Ivoire, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s $154.9 million Skills for Employability and Productivity project will support the Directorate of Gender Equity and Equality in the Ministry of Education and the National Gender Policy for Education—a $9 million effort—and investments in school infrastructure, teacher training, and STEM skills. Furthermore, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s compact for Timor-Leste includes the TALENT education project, which dedicates $1.65 million to increasing the number of women in secondary education teaching and leadership positions, with benefits for girls’ education.
- Securing Access to Green Jobs. USAID is launching a $737,000 pilot initiative to advance the creation of more and better jobs in food, agriculture, and other green sectors. This effort will deliver decent work opportunities for young working age women and strengthen climate resilience.
- Mitigating the Effects of Climate Change. USAID will provide up to $3.8 million, matching its partner the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) contribution, for the Climate Action Partnership for Education, a joint effort between USAID and FCDO to develop and test innovative solutions to reduce the impact of the climate crisis on girls’ education.
- Empowering Girls Globally. SHE’S GREAT 2.0: Support Her Empowerment – Girls’ Resilience, Enterprise, and Technology Initiative (SHE’s GREAT!) is a Department of State initiative that seeks to challenge and transform harmful gender norms that affect youth education, income, health, physical safety, and well-being. The Department of State will invest $3.4 million to expand the initiative.
- Consulting Girls to Improve School Safety. The Department of Education, through the Task Force on Sexual Violence in Education established in the 2022 Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, is receiving input from various stakeholders, including girls ages 16 to 18, on their needs and recommendations to improve school safety and prevent gender-based violence in school.
- Empowering Girls in STEM Careers. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is announcing the launch of a new graphic novel in their First Woman series to inspire and galvanize girls to pursue careers in STEM. The second issue of this series will be available online later this month in both English and Spanish and features Callie, an Afro-Latina woman astronaut, on a journey to the Moon. First Woman is launching ahead of NASA landing the first woman and person of color on the moon as part of the Artemis program.
We are strengthening safety and wellbeing by:
- Promoting Efforts to End Child Marriage Globally. USAID will invest $42 million and the Department of State will program $2.45 million to prevent and respond to child, early, and forced marriage globally. These programs will focus on equipping girls and young women with education and workforce readiness skills; mitigating harmful effects of child marriage through education, health, legal, and economic support; and raising awareness of the risks and harms associated with child marriage. In addition, for the first time, the United States will contribute to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)–United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Global Programme to End Child Marriage, which works in 12 countries in Africa and South Asia to promote the rights of adolescent girls.
- Addressing Girls’ Risk of HIV/AIDS. The DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe) public-private partnership—launched as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2014—addresses key factors that render adolescent girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV. PEPFAR is expanding DREAMS to reach more adolescent girls and young women with HIV prevention services and invest approximately $360 million to reach over 2.9 million girls and young women across 15 countries in the next year.
- Reducing Risk for Girls in the Juvenile Justice System. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention within the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs is announcing more than $4 million in new funding awards to help communities develop, enhance, or expand early intervention programs and treatment services for girls who are involved in the juvenile justice system.
- Fostering Resilience and Awareness of Online Harassment and Abuse. The HHS Office of Trafficking in Persons is announcing new human trafficking prevention education grants for schools and engaging survivors of human trafficking to develop strategies that schools and communities can use to increase youth awareness of and resilience against trafficking-related online harassment and abuse.
- Preventing and Ending Youth Homelessness. The HHS Family and Youth Services Bureau is launching a new Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Demonstration Program, which will support community-based demonstration initiatives to prevent youth and young adults from becoming homeless, including by designing and developing a prevention plan and implementing robust, holistic services to respond to the diverse needs of youth and their families who may be at risk of homelessness.
In addition, a number of non-profit and private sector stakeholders areannouncing new actions to support girls in pursuing STEM education and careers including:
- Empowering Girls to Shape the Future of AI. Girls Who Code is announcing a new interactive campaign – GirlJams.ai – that will introduce students to AI capabilities by having them write, mix, and produce an AI-powered hit single. Girls Who Code’s AI campaign, along with a newly developed AI curriculum, will spark interest in computer science for 200,000 students, empowering them to become tech leaders and shape the future on their own terms.
- Expanding STEM Career Pathways for Girls. Career Girls is announcing a new initiative to increase the number of women represented in the STEM workforce by expanding their Career Girls Club program in schools nationwide. Career Girls Club provides schools free curriculum, supplies, and support for educators to implement the 20-week career exploration program. Educators can access over 16,000 videos and leverage the advice and experience of over 800 diverse and accomplished women role models to support STEM career exploration.
- Encouraging Innovation and Empowering Girls in the Toy Industry. Today Hasbro is announcing a new initiative called Girl Innovators of Play. In partnership with Girl Up, this program will include an Innovation of Play bootcamp, a dynamic hands-on program for girl leaders throughout the nation to learn and engage with prominent women leaders at Hasbro and the inventor community to continue bridging the gender gap in STEM. Following the bootcamp, Girl Up participants will have the opportunity to apply for seed funding for a social impact project, supported by Hasbro, through the Girl Up Project Awards program.
- Expanding STEM Programming in Tribal Communities. Dell Technologies, in partnership with Hesperus, is announcing the expansion of the Girls Who Game program within the San Carlos Apache community. Students are taking on the new challenge of building an immersive world, inside Minecraft Education, that captures key cultural traditions, agriculture, events, geography, and language to educate and engage others on tribal history. The signature program gives underserved students the opportunity to develop leadership skills, while learning about STEM through gaming.