Trump Wants to End Michelle Obama’s Girls’ Education Program

I think it’s safe to say many of us miss Michelle Obama, who was an outspoken and driven first lady with a particular commitment to children’s issues. Though she’s left the White House, her gains foráearly childhood educationáseemed likeáa fitting legacyá– except for the fact that the Trump administration just put the kibosh on it by attacking Let Girls Learn.

The Trump administration reportedly issued a memo indicating that the innovative program, which aimsáto increase access to education for young women in developing nations, would beáterminated — effective immediately.

However, after public outcry, the administrationádenied that it would terminateáLet Girls Learn –ááthough it offered noáexplanation of the memo’s announcement that it wouldáabandon use of the initiative’sáname and wouldáno longer maintain a stand-alone program.

USAID toldáThe Independentáthat there were no planned changes to the program.

Because Let Girls Learn is a stand-alone program, it can uniquely and effectively coordinate the efforts of multiple agencies that ordinarily don’t work together. USAID, the Peace Corps, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Departments of State, Labor and Agriculture all contribute different pieces of the puzzle.

Together, these organizationsáidentify barriers for young women across the Global South. And in addition to promoting and strengthening existing programs, they help develop new initiativesáwhere needed. Their work focuses on a new approach to development that’s grounded in grassroots community leadership and bottom-up innovations — rather than sendingáin foreign “experts” toátell people what to do, they consult with local community members to identify and meet theiráneeds.

Let Girls Learnáworks in combat zones and other regions where social and political pressures can make it even more challenging to access a safe, comprehensive and meaningful education. UNICEF notes that secondary education is an incredibly valuable tool for fightingágender inequality.

Annually, Let Girls Learn uses aboutáone billion dollars for activities like funding teacher training, providing textbooks, paying school fees, promoting reproductive health, running educational camps and fighting child marriage. If one billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, keep in mindáthat the total annual budget is around $3.8 trillion. The Pentagon budget is around $583 billion.

Investing substantial resources in childhood education for young women all over the world has the potential to net tremendous return. Higher educational attainment tends to equate to higher earnings, which canálift young women out ofápovertyáand help them play a more active role in society.

It may also enable a flowering of innovation, as young women realize their potential as creators, scientists, researchers and so much more. In turn, this women-led entrepreneurship could generate revenue for nations, helping them to achieve economic independence and repay loans from organizations like the World Bank.

Greater gender equality also carries numerous benefits — and not just to women who will have more free and just lives. A more equal society tends to be more peaceful and prosperous.

And the United States can certainly benefit from this typeáof “soft diplomacy,” which builds cordial relationships with nations that may become important allies. Whether we’re counting on an agricultural export, hoping for help with conflict resolution or aimingáto facilitate intellectual and cultural exchange, investing in young women’s education is a solidáfiscal decision.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Trump administration has issued confusing and contradictory information. Hopefully, the coming days will bring clarity on the fate of Let Girls Learn, and the administration will recognize the value of this program. After all, promoting education for girls should be an important part of our contribution to the global community.

Photo credit: US Embassy Phnom Penh

99 comments

Melania P

What a horrible man :(

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Carl R
Carl R2 months ago

thanks!!!

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Sabrina D
Sabrina D2 months ago

Petition signed!!

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Sabrina D
Sabrina D2 months ago

This program doesn't have to be stopped at all!

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R2 months ago

No polite comment at 6:37 a.m.
Petition signed... with hope

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william Miller
william Miller2 months ago

Thanks

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Mary B
Mary B2 months ago

This program is for girls in developing nations, where young girls are sold into child marriages, sex slavery , and all manner of things that will keep them dependent on husbands who are too often abusive. The idea is to give them a bigger view of the wider world, and some basic skills to empower them. Of course all the right wingers do is crab about 'their tax dollors'. No sense of building good will with other countries or helping little girls out of poverty or abuse. So, to you rotten to the core repubs, what do you suggest to build good will and help little girls ? Do you have anything useful to offer ? Time changes nothing. Only the Will of humans put into action can create things that are good. That's what PROGRESS is.

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natasha s
natasha s2 months ago

Trump is a monster.

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga2 months ago

that is awful

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Ingrid H
Ingrid H2 months ago

Idiot.

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