Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded the House of Representatives passage of H.R. 3398, the Girls Count Act and H.R. 3583, the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act.  Both bills passed the Committee earlier this year with bipartisan support.

The Girls Count Act (H.R. 3398), authored by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), authorizes the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to work with countries on improving their civil registries, to accurately record female births.  The bill also promotes the development of laws and policies to prevent discrimination against girls and improve property and inheritance rights for women.  Lastly, the legislation requires the State Department and USAID to provide more relevant breakdowns of foreign assistance whenever possible, so that we can be sure women and girls are benefiting from U.S. efforts.

On the passage of H.R. 3398, Chairman Royce said: “Nearly one-third of all children around the world have never had their births registered by their countries’ civil registries.  For girls in particular, this lack of documentation can undercut laws protecting them from trafficking or becoming child brides.  In the wake of the horrors we’ve seen perpetrated by terrorist groups like ISIL and Boko Haram – kidnapping and enslaving school-aged girls, robbing them of their freedoms – I know so many of us are deeply concerned by the plight of women and girls around the world.  This legislation aims to empower those who have been cast into the shadows of their society.  Birth registration is one of the first steps in the fight to preserve an individual’s basic rights under the law.  Let’s help girls count.”

The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act (H.R. 3583), authored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), expands the number of scholarships available to Pakistani women under USAID’s Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program by requiring that at least half of the scholarships that are made available go to women.

On the passage of H.R. 3583, Chairman Royce said: “For years, I’ve expressed concern about the appalling state of education in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the subsequent rise of madrasas that prey upon the disenfranchised and breed radicalism.  The situation for women in areas where access to education is actively suppressed is particularly grim.  It’s fitting that today’s legislation was named for Malala Yousafzai, who at the age of fifteen dared to defy the Taliban, survived a brutal assassination attempt, and ultimately inspired a generation of women and girls to demand their fundamental right to be educated.  At the heart of this bill is a push to help educate women and girls; a step that pays long-term dividends that helps stabilize societies, promotes economic growth, and advances U.S. national security objectives.”

Note:  The Committee has worked to highlight the important role that women and girls play in U.S. foreign policy.  Earlier this year, the Committee held a hearing entitled “Women’s Education: Promoting Development, Countering Radicalism,” which examined how the education of women in countries prone to violent extremism can create economic opportunities and help counter the spread of radicalism.