Ius Gentium

University of Baltimore School of Law's Center for International and Comparative Law Fellows discuss international and comparative legal issues


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WALKING A MILE IN HER SHOES -FEMALE EMPLOYEES VS. EMPLOYERS IN MODERN DAY UNITED KINGDOM

 Roman Msaki 

The history of women and high heels is very interesting. Our early ancestors they didn’t care about putting shoes leaving alone high heels. In all likelihood, they went barefoot. Shoes in the form of sandals emerged around 9,000 years ago as a means of protecting bare feet from the elements (specifically, frostbite).

The Greeks viewed shoes as an indulgence—a means of increasing status, though it was a Greek, actually Aeschylus, who created the first high heel, called “korthonos” for theatrical purposes. His intent was to “add majesty to the heroes of his plays so that they would stand out from the lesser players and be more easily recognized”.[1]

Greek women adopted the trend, taking the wedge heel to new heights that the late Alexander McQueen would have likely applauded. The adoption of shoes, and the heel, for Greeks appears to coincide with Roman influence, and ultimately Roman conquest. Roman fashion was viewed as a sign of power and status, and shoes represented a state of civilization[2].

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The widespread popularity of the heel is credited to Catherine de Medici who wore heels to look taller. When she wore them to her wedding to Henry II of France, they became a status symbol for the wealthy. Commoners were banned from wearing heels, although it’s doubtful that they would have been able to afford them anyway. Later, the French heel predecessor to the narrow, tall heel of today would be made popular by Marquise de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV. These shoes initially required women to use walking sticks to keep their balance until the height of the heel was reduced[3].

In the United States the campaign “Walking a Mile in her Shoes” was designed to raise male awareness and condemn rape, sexual assault and gender violence[4]. The main aim of the drive was to enable men to experience a day on “heels”.

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But, the story of Nicole Thorp, a secretary of the London big accountancy firm “PWC”[5]  in United Kingdom tells us another story, a different perspective on wearing high heels. In her firm, high heels are mandatory. She was sent back home in December 2015 for wearing flats instead of high heels[6]. She refused to obey the then rules of her employment agency, Portico, that she should wear shoes with heels that were between two and four inches high. Ms. Thorp argued that wearing them all day would be bad for her feet.[7] She started a petition in 2016, which attracted about 150,000 signatures[8] far beyond the required number of signatures needed to trigger a response by the government.

“This may have started over a pair of high heels, but what it has revealed about discrimination in the UK workplace is vital, as demonstrated by the hundreds of women who came forward via the committees’ online forum…………… (words omitted for emphasis); The current system favors the employer, and is failing employees,” she said in reflection of what really going on in employment sector in United Kingdom.[9]

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The United Kingdom passed the Equality Act in 2010 in order to ensure equal treatment at work for all genders. However, dress code regulations have been solely left within employers’ hands. As a result, two House of Common committees, (the Petition committee and the Women and Equality Committee) invited the public to send in their own examples of discriminatory dress codes. As a result, they were inundated with examples. The committee heard from women who were asked to wear shorter skirts, to unbutton blouses, and of dress codes that specified shades of nail varnish and hair color choices.[10]

The committees report[11] revealed evidence dating from 1880 to the present day which showed a “direct causative relationship” between the protracted use of high heels and serious conditions including stress fractures bunions, lower back pain and posture change and increased energy demand, as energy consumption and heart rate increases with heel height. The Government response was positive, and it has agreed to review equality issues in a forthcoming parliamentary session in March 2017.

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Despite the long-term health effects resulting from wearing high heels, some women still believe that wearing high heels at work should be required. For them, wearing high heels give a woman source of power and a higher status at work. Yet should it be REQUIRED or just recommended?

What is happening in the U.K reminds me of the Louisiana Law on “separate but equal” which had existed for decades, until it was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education[12]. Is it fair to subject women to harsh and stringent dress code rules than men? They are equal because they got a chance to be employed, but treated separately because of sex. Here, women are clearly held to a separate and unequal treatment than their male counterparts.

Roman Msaki is currently a 2L student at University of Baltimore. He has a LL. B from the University of Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania), a post-graduate diploma in legal practice from the Law School of Tanzania, and a LL.M in the Law of the United States from the University of Baltimore. He has an interest in international law due to participating in the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition in 2012 for his university in Tanzania. Since then, he has regularly served as a Jessup judge in both regional rounds (Kenya, Uganda and Ghana) and the international rounds, held annually in Washington D.C. Last semester, he was a research assistant to Prof. Nienke Grossman. He is a member of the International Law Society, Immigration Law Society, International Law Student Association and American Bar Association. His main areas of interest in international law are: International humanitarian law and use of force.

[1] Smith, E.O. High Heels and Evolution: Natural Selection, Sexual Selection and High Heels; Journal of Psychology, Evolution and Gender pg. 254, December 1999. Available at: eosmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/JournalArticle30.pdf. (Last visited January 29th).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4]  See for instance: www.walkamileinhershoes.org/ ; www.walkamileinhershoes.org/calendar.html accessed on 29th January 17.

[5] PWC stands for “Pricewaterhouse Coopers”.

[6] For her short interview see: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-38737300 accessed on 29th January 17.

[7] Ibid.

[8]  See: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/129823; Accessed on 29th January

[9] Supra: note 4

[10] See: www.forbes.com/…/high-heels-and-workplace-dress-codes-urgent-action-needed-say..  Last viewed on 29th January.

[11]The report can be viewed at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/petitions-committee/news-parliament-2015/high-heels-and-workplace-dress-codes-report-published-16-17/?utm_source=petition&utm_campaign=129823&utm_medium=email&utm_content=reportstory, Accessed on 29th January 17.

[12] 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

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The Mammary Games: Polarity on Breastfeeding Practices

Bryana Spann

Throughout the 2016 election and into the new administration of the President, women’s rights advocates have further reverberated their platform to let the world know that we matter. On January 21, 2017, millions of people around the world took to the streets voicing their outrage towards the insulting rhetoric of the past election cycle. With dozens of speakers and thousands of signs decrying the police brutality, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and discrimination against minorities, there seemed to be a missing message: the absolute right to breastfeeding.

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Global Discourse on Breastfeeding

The benefits that come with breastfeeding have been highly regarded within the international community for the past few decades. Groups such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that women breastfeed their child within the first hour of birth and exclusively for the first six months of the child’s life.[1] At six months, soft or semi-solid foods be introduced to complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more.[2] Not only does breastfeeding benefit the child’s health, development and nutrition but it also substantially decreases the chances of child and infant mortality.[3] Optimal breastfeeding is especially important in developing countries that have a high risk of disease coupled with low access to clean water or sanitation. In such conditions, an exclusively breastfed child is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than a non-breastfed child. [4]

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Despite the benefits that come along with exclusive breastfeeding, it’s simply not a reality for the majority of women. With about 830 million women workers worldwide, less than 40 per cent of the world’s infants are exclusively breastfed at the appropriate time. [5] The WHO, UNICEF, and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) recently published a joint report, citing the inadequacy of national laws to protect and promote breastfeeding.[6] The report tracks country involvement and adaptation with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes (the Code) as part of their membership in the WHO.[7] Generally, the Code is aimed towards, “safe and adequate nutrition for infants, the protection and promotion of breastfeeding, and by ensuring the proper use of breastmilk substitutes, when…necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution.” [8] Although 135 countries have in place some form of legal measure related to the Code, only 39 countries have laws that enact most or all of the Code. [9] Most of the implementation of the Code has taken place in developing countries of the “Global South”, where the populations are more susceptible to high rates of infant mortality due to respiratory infection and diarrhea. Some of the most pervasive challenges in implementing the Code include the lack of political will to participate, interference from manufacturers and distributors, as well as the absence of coordination by stakeholders. [10]

Taboos and Attitudes towards the Boobs

Despite the global initiatives by UNICEF, WHO, and IBFAN, there still seems to be cultural taboo against mothers who choose to breastfeed in public. Some of the most important elements to successful exclusive breastfeeding is “on demand” feedings and expressing milk when not around the child.[11] This ensures that adequate milk production is maintained throughout the different stages of breastfeeding. Sadly, this becomes more problematic with the lack of maternity leave, as well as the lack of nursing accommodations at work and public places such as restaurants, shops, and airports.

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In May 2015, Rep. Tammy Duckworth from Illinois introduced the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act to the House following her travel experiences with her infant daughter [12]. She realized that many national airports didn’t provide suitable space to breastfeed in airport terminals. The FAM Act would require all major U.S. airport to provide “lactation rooms”, with seating, a table and an electrical outlet. Although 62 per cent of the country’s 100 largest airports considered themselves as “breastfeeding-friendly”, only 8 per cent of them provided suitable breastfeeding accommodations. [13] The mandate would aim to bring privacy, comfort, safety, and convenience to traveling mothers. As of 2017, the bill is still with the House Subcommittee on Aviation. [14]

Just this year, traveling mothers have had their own issues across the pond. Gayathiri Bose, a Singaporean mother of two, was traveling to Paris from Frankfurt Airport when she was confronted by German authorities.[15] She was traveling without her baby, but with her breast pump so that she could regularly express breastmilk. This raised suspicion with a female police officer. According to Ms. Bose, the police officer asked her to prove she was lactating by asking her to manually expressing her breastmilk. The incident proved to be an embarrassing moment for Ms. Bose, who is now seeking legal action following her encounter. A Frankfurt police spokesman has confirmed that Ms. Bose’s breast pump checked as a possible suspected explosive and denies her allegation. Claire Dunn, travelling from London Heathrow airport found herself in similar debacle when she was questioned by two male security guards over her breast pump.[16] She alleges that the men had no idea what the object was and kept asking her why she needed the pump if she wasn’t traveling with her baby. [17] Anisha Turner, who traveled from London to India, also found expressing to be problematic during her flight in December 2016. [18] Turner was traveling without her one year old daughter and was able to find numerous nursing facilities in the Mumbai Airport but was stuck expressing milk in disabled bathroom stall in Heathrow Airport, evidencing the disparities in attitudes between the “Global North” and the Global South” regarding breastfeeding.

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Traveling mothers seem to have an uphill battle when it comes to nursing on the go. As the Women’s March takes its next steps, it’s important that citizens reach out to leaders in the organization to force this issue into the spotlight. Phone calls, letters, and social media have also been great tools in reaching out to congressmen and governors. It’s going to take a more open and frank conversation on breastfeeding, women’s health, and child mortality to educate government officials and society as a whole on an inherent part of motherhood.  

Bryana Spann is a 2L student at the University Of Baltimore School of Law. She completed her undergraduate studies at the College of Charleston, where she majored in International Studies with a Concentration in Asian Studies. She also spent a semester abroad in Shanghai, where she studied subjects such as the Government and Politics of China as well as Chinese Calligraphy. Currently, Bryana is member of the International Law Society, the Black Law Students Association, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. having previously served as its Global Impact Chair for the Gamma Xi Omega Chapter. Having worked as a law clerk with the Lake County Public Defender, her interests include international human rights, civil liberties, as well as pro bono criminal defense.

[1] http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/breastfeeding/facts/en/

[2] Id.

[3] https://www.unicef.org/nutrition/index_24824.html

[4]https://www.unicef.org/nutrition/index_breastfeeding.html#2 (citing Black R. et al. ‘Maternal and child undernutrition: global and regional exposures and health consequences’. (Maternal and Child Undernutrition Series 1). The Lancet, vol. 371 No. 9608, January 2008, pp.243-60

[5] https://www.unicef.org/nutrition/index_breastfeeding.html#2

[6] https://www.unicef.org/media/media_91075.html

[7] Id.

[8] http://ibfan.org/the-full-code

[9] https://www.unicef.org/media/media_91075.html

[10] Id.

[11] http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/breastfeeding/facts/en/

[12] http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/rep-tammy-duckworth-leads-charge-lactation-rooms-airports

[13] Id.

[14] https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2530/all-info

[15] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38767588

[16] http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38809100

[17] Id.

 

[18] Id.


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Behold, the power of a woman…

J. Michal Forbes

Sex strikes, or lysistratic nonaction, are a real and, arguably, useful tool for women around the world in order to force their men to implement change.[i]  A sex strike is when persons, typically women, withhold sex from their partners to achieve certain goals.

Most recently, sex strikes made headlines when Mishi Mboko, a Kenyan parliamentarian, asked all female voters to withhold sex with their partners.[ii] With tension rising in anticipation of the presidential election, Mboko urged women in areas where the opposition is popular to withhold sex until their husbands showed them their voter registration cards.[iii] Ms. Mboko said that “sex is a powerful weapon” that would encourage reluctant men to register as voters.[iv]

Despite having a few prominent female politicians, Kenya remains a misogynic, patriarchal conservative society.[v] Since Kenya gained its independence from Great Britian in 1966, the country has only had four presidents, including the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.[vi] Kenyatta, coincidentally, is the son of Kenya’s first present, Jomo Kenyatta.[vii] There was much controversy when Uhuru Kenyatta initially took office in 2013, with the Kenyan Supreme court having to intervene and determine that the elections were valid with no regularities.[viii]

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Mombasa Women Representative Mishi Mboko

Since then, many other political groups have sought to oust President Kenyatta’s Jubliee Party. Mboko, who is a member of the rival National Super Alliance has said that the need for all citizens to vote is so crucial that women must do their parts by forcing their husbands to vote. However, the National Super Alliance is not the only party pushing country wide voter registration. President Kenyatta himself is also advocating that Kenyas coming out and register as voters, except he is not advocating a sex strike.[ix]

The question arises why do Kenyan woman feel as though they do not have a political voice and they need to use sex as a bargain tool. First, it is important to note that Kenya is a party to the Convention of Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a treaty that serves as in “international bill of rights for women”, describing and defining what constitutes discrimination against women and establishing an international agenda for national action to end such discrimination.[x] By becoming a party to CEDAW, the Kenyan government has agreed to make a series of changes to protect women’s rights, including incorporating women equally into their government.[xi] However, despite new Kenyan laws designed to increase the number of elected women in Kenya politics, Kenyan women still have the lowest level of parliamentarian representation in their region.[xii] Though Kenyan women have the right to vote, they are not reflected in their government.

However, as aforementioned, Kenya is a conservative patriarchal society, where most woman shy away from politics and focus on business. Kenyan woman have learned that in addition to their rights, they can maintain a certain level of control over their husbands by withholding sex.

Ms. Mboko is not alone in her attempts to use Kenyan women to use their feminity to help implement change in the voting booth. Esther Murugi, another Kenyan poltician, has also called on Kenyan women not to cook for their husbands and for pastors not to welcome worshippers to their churches unless they can prove they are registered voters.[xiii]

This is not the first time that a sex strike was used by women to try to implement political change in Kenya. In 2009, after a number of failed peace-building measures, the Women’s Development Organisation, a women’s right group announced a weeklong sex-in as an attempt get former President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to make reconcile.[xiv] The group approached both the politician’s wives and even went so far as to pay prostitutes not to work.[xv]

The question arises as to whether sex strikes have actually shown to be effective. Sadly, there has been no empirical evidence that sex strikes are successful in obtaining any kind of political leverage. In fact, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, who helped organized a sex strike in Liberia in the early 2000s in an effort to end the country’s civil war, mentioned in her memoir that the Liberian sex strike actually has “little to no effect”.[xvi]

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Would this work in the United States?

In 2015, Spike Lee’s musical drama “Chi-Raq” explored the effect of a sex strike in America. In the movie, the girlfriends of top rival gangs in Chicago withheld sex from their boyfriends until the bloodshed stopped.[xvii] Similar to the strike in Kenya, they required all women, including mistresses and prostitutes to support their cause.[xviii] In the end, their sex strike resulted in the rival gun member dropping their weapons and ending the bloodshed.[xix]

Soon after the move, a woman in Chicago started a petition in order to get all the women in Chicago to go on a similar strike in hopes of achieving a similar goal.[xx] Though the petition is now closed, it gained roughly 100 signatures. While ultimately unsuccessful in gaining massive traction, it good to know that feminist grassroots organizations in America are considering alternative methods to bring international attention to local issues.

J. Michal Forbes is a proud native of Prince George’s County, Maryland, Ms. Forbes has a fiery passion for international law, travel and frozen yogurt. After receiving her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore she taught ESOL in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area before joining the US Peace Corps in 2011. Ms. Forbes served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine from 2011 to 2013, in a small town between the Red Sea and the Black Sea in Crimea. Fluent in Russian, Ms. Forbes soon caught the travel bug and traveled/worked extensively throughout Eastern Europe during her 27 month commitment. Currently a 3L, Ms. Forbes is a member of the International Law Society, Immigration Law Society, Black Law Student Association and the Women Lawyers as Leaders Initiative. She has worked for Maryland Legal Aid and the NAACP’s Office of the Attorney General. She was recently awarded the honor of being named Article Editor with the University of Baltimore Law Forum, a scholarly legal journal focused on rising issues in Maryland. It is her dream to work for the U.S. government assisting with asylum seekers and refugee. 

In her free time, Ms. Forbes enjoys eating frozen yogurt with her husband and learning Arabic.

[i] Do Sex Strikes Ever Work?, Slate, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/08/sex_strike_in_togo_do_sex_strikes_ever_work_.html

[ii] Kenyan Politician Proposes Women Withhold Sex Until Men Register To Vote, NPR,  http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/01/17/510284069/kenyan-politician-proposes-women-withhold-sex-until-men-register-to-vote

[iii] No sex for Kenyan men without voting cards, says Mombasa woman representative Mishi Mboko, Standard Digital, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/mobile/article/2000230176/no-sex-for-kenyan-men-without-voting-cards-says-mp.

[iv] Kenyan woman urged to withhold sex in vote drive, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38649235

[v] Why women do not vote for women, Standard Digital, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000223551/why-women-do-not-vote-for-women

[vi] Uhuru Kenyatta sworn in as Kenya’s fourth president, The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/kenya/9981906/Uhuru-Kenyatta-sworn-in-as-Kenyas-fourth-president.html

[vii] Id.

[viii] Uhuru Kenyatta’s election victory is upheld by Kenya’s supreme court, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/31/kenya-court-upholds-kenyatta-victory

[ix] KTN Prime: President Uhuru Kenyatta to take on country wide campaigns for voter registration, KTN News, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/ktnnews/video/watch/2000120571/ktn-prime-president-uhuru-kenyatta-to-take-on-country-wide-campaigns-for-voter-registration

[x] Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, UN, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/

[xi] Id.

[xii] FACTBOX: Women in Kenyan politics in numbers, Thomson Reuters Foundation News, http://news.trust.org//item/20131206165550-iroep/

[xiii] Deny Husbands Sex Until They Register to Vote, Says Kenyan MP, Newsweek, http://www.newsweek.com/kenyan-mp-tells-women-deny-husbands-sex-until-they-register-vote-429809

[xiv] Kenyan women go on sex strike to force politicians to talk, The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/kenya/5245040/Kenyan-women-go-on-sex-strike-to-force-politicians-to-talk.html.

[xv] Id.

[xvi] Kenyan Politician Proposes Women Withhold Sex Until Men Register To Vote, NPR,  http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/01/17/510284069/kenyan-politician-proposes-women-withhold-sex-until-men-register-to-vote

[xvii] Chi-Raq (2015), IMDb, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4594834/

[xviii] Id.

[xix] Id.

[xx] Women in Chicago: End senseess violence, go on a SEX STRIKE, change.org, https://www.change.org/p/april-lawson-sex-strike-in-chicago-no-justice-no-cootchie


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“Let Girls Learn” – A U.S. and Japan Initiative Promoting Education for Girls Across the Globe

Suzanne de Deyne

Last year the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched a public engagement campaign entitled, “Let Girls Learn” to promote an increase in access to quality education and ensure successful empowerment for girls.[1]  To date, USAID has donated one billion dollars in education programs, over 35 million in textbooks and other teaching materials in a single year, and helped train over 300,000 teachers worldwide.[2]  The clear take-away message from this initiative is that when girls have the opportunity to gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence to break the cycle of poverty, raise healthier families, and help build their communities everyone benefits.

Let Girls Learn

Unfortunately, 62 million girls around the world are not in school.[3]  Half of these girls are adolescents.[4]  The gender gap among adolescents persists because it is at this age that girls are often first subject to the cultural values and practices that define and limit the prospects of women in their societies.[5]  Pressure to marry, dangerous commutes to school, education fees, lack of access to healthcare, and fear of speaking out are all factors contributing to the gender divide.  To address this concern, First Lady Michelle Obama recently announced a joint effort with Akie Abe, wife of Japan’s prime minister, to advance the “Let Girls Learn” initiative and help educate girls across the globe.[6]

To build momentum for the “Let Girls Learn” campaign, the First Lady teamed up with the Peace Corps.  The partnership will initially target eleven countries and focus on three main pillars – empowering leaders, working hand in hand, and increasing impact.[7]  A collaboration with multiple nations and an international service organization of the United States, is important for this campaign because it recognizes that the education gender gap is a global challenge, but its root causes are often local, and therefore call for local solutions.[8]  Because “Let Girls Learn” is a community-focused initiative, solutions to gender and girls’ education issues will be devised by local leaders, families, and girls themselves.[9]

Let Girls Learn 2

Peace Corps volunteers will work to develop locally based education programs, from leadership camps to mentoring projects.[10]  Research indicates that every additional year of education can increase a girl’s earning power by ten to twenty percent[11] and girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children when compared to girls who have little to no education.[12]  In sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, almost 60% fewer girls would become pregnant if they had a secondary education.[13]  Furthermore, sending more girls to school leads to an overall boost in a country’s economy.”[14]

The programs built under the “Let Girls Learn” initiative address education in the broad sense of the word. Education includes more than just academic education; it focuses on empowerment and leadership, health and nutrition, gender-based violence, forced marriage, and the benefit of bilateral and multilateral partnerships. Below are some specific projects, which started under USAID and will continue to be promoted under the new comparative partnership between the U.S. and Japan, directly changing the lives of adolescent girls:

  • Advancing Youth Project (AYP): Young girls, mostly young mothers, in Liberia are given out-of-school opportunity to build a better life through quality alternative basic education services, such as social development and leadership training for those who are unschooled or have marginal literacy and numeracy skills. To date, the project has reached 500 adolescent girls and aims to reach 2,800 by the end of 2016.[15]
  • Girls Opportunities to Access Leaning Plus program (GOAL): Works to “improve the enrollment, attendance and retention of 7,000 primary school girls across 60 schools [in Liberia] through scholarship packages, school supplies, hygiene kits and parent-teacher capacity building.” In all 60 schools, mentoring, tutoring, gender responsiveness training, and library resources are also included in the program. The EQUAL Program takes this one step further because it piloted mother-tongue, English, and family literacy activities where gender based violence in schools is discussed to educate the community in identifying ways to make schools safer for learning.[16]
  • Girls Empowerment through Education and Health Activity (ASPIRE): Works with over 125,000 adolescent girls in Malawi to improve education and health outcomes by improving the reading skills of girls, providing clean water, toilet facilities, feminine hygiene products, and encourages the adoption of positive health behaviors.[17]
  • Best School for Girls: Helped a young girl in Bangladesh avoid an arranged marriage, in part because her parents could not afford her education, because when she informed her school of this campaign they offered to bring her back to school for free.[18]
  • Sisterhood is Global Institute: Program located in Jordan that assists civil society by reducing the number of discriminatory national laws and regulations that affect women and girls, specifically focusing on banning forced marriage under 18 and providing legal precedence to prosecute rape in the context of marriage.[19]

Let Girls Learn 3

Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women.  Education for girls is education for all because when girls are educated, public health concerns diminish and prosperity, especially to both national and global economies, thrives.  Education generates opportunity and independence.  Many of the adolescent girls where “Let Girls Learn” programs are in place have the spirit to learn. These programs simply provide them with the power to learn. When girls are educated, they lead healthier and more productive lives.  Some of these girls “walk miles each day to school, study for hours each night, and stand strong against those who say they are unworthy of an education.”[20]  If they are prepared to make these sacrifices, the global community must continue to provide the resources through this initiative and ensure adolescent girls get the education they deserve.  It is time to Let Girls Learn.

Suzanne De Deyne is a second year student at the University of Baltimore School of Law (candidate for J.D., May 2016) concentrating in International Law. Suzanne graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Economics. She also received a Honor’s International Relations Certificate from Mount Holyoke College.

Currently, Suzanne is a staff editor on the Journal of International Law and represents the International Law Society as the Alumni Relations Director. As a CICL Fellow, Suzanne conducts legal research for International Rights Advocates on human rights and corporate accountability. She is also a member of Phi Alpha Delta and the Women’s Bar Association. This summer she will be a legal intern at Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher in the firm’s Brussels office, which is focused on Competition Law practice in Europe.

[1] Let Girls Learn, USAID, http://www.usaid.gov/letgirlslearn [hereinafter USAID] (last visited Mar. 26, 2015).

[2] USAID, supra note 1.

[3] Let Girls Learn, White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/letgirlslearn (last visited Mar. 26, 2015).

[4] Let Girls Learn, supra note 3.

[5] Michelle Obama, Let’s Ensure That Every Girl Can Learn, Wall St. J. , Mar. 15, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/michelle-obama-lets-ensure-that-every-girl-can-learn-1426458404.

[6] Obama, supra note 4.

[7] Let Girls Learn, Peace Corps, https://letgirlslearn.peacecorps.gov (last visited Mar. 26, 2015).

[8] Obama, supra note 4.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] USAID, supra note 1.

[13] Id.

[14] Obama, supra note 4.

[15] USAID, supra note 1.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] Obama, supra note 4.