U.S. Foreign Assistance Vital To Ending FGM, Empowering Women, Girls Worldwide

The Hill: U.S. foreign aid empowers women and girls worldwide
Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), vice ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee

“…[Sierra Leone] has one of the highest rates of [female genital mutilation (FGM)] globally, and each year more than three million girls are at risk of undergoing this dangerous procedure. The practice results in preventable deaths and carries lifelong health risks for those who do survive, including infections, hemorrhaging, and birth complications. … [T]he Girls Access to Education (GATE) program implemented by Plan International … [works] in Sierra Leone with families, local authorities, and village chiefs to stop FGM and help young women who have suffered the practice move forward with their lives. The program also empowers girls and women to become advocates for change, helping tackle issues like gender-based violence and girls education. … When I think of my time in Sierra Leone and learning about the incredible young women … working to improve their communities, I was proud to know that these programs were partially funded by U.S. foreign assistance. That funding is vital for women and girls … fighting to educate communities and stop female genital mutilation. … So, on this International Day of the Girl, we should recognize just how important these programs are. We should celebrate today by continuing to fund U.S. foreign assistance. The future stability and growth of countries like Sierra Leone … will certainly depend on it” (10/11).