By Rachel Auslander
On November 19, the United States House passed the Girls Count Act with
overwhelming support! Introduced in 2013, the Girls Count Act was created to introduce
programs to developing countries to improve birth registration and documentation
systems, and give girls the access to basic rights, including the right to a birth certificate.
So why does this matter so much to girls around the world?
There are 51 million children under the age of five who are not registered at birth every
year, with a huge amount being girls, even though most countries have birth registration
laws. 290 million children currently are invisible to society since they lack this simple
paper. Documentation is essential for women to have equality. Without a birth certificate,
girls cannot gain legal status, and therefore cannot go to school, see a doctor, vote, retain
a passport, or have access to social services and healthcare. Without documentation, girls
may also not be able to be employed, or even start their own businesses. So a birth
certificate is not just proof of a birthday, but a critical component for a girl to be allowed
to have the same, equal access to her society as others.
Every girl should be able to participate in her government and have the same rights and
access to all resources as men. If a girl has a birth certificate, she is given the opportunity
to become a leader in her society, and the chance to make her own living and future.
While writing this post, this movement remind me of this video from The Girl Effect:
Even though the United States may document all children, this is a critical part of U.S.
foreign policy. Now the Senate needs to pass this bill before the end of the year, and help
solve this issue that affects millions of girls worldwide. (If you want to support this bill,
go to www.GirlUp.org/GirlsCountAct)