Washington, DC (November 20, 2014) — World Vision applauds the House of Representatives’ passage of the Girls Count Act, H.R.3398 on Wednesday. The Girls Count Act prioritizes birth registration of all children in U.S. foreign assistance and authorizes the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to support programs that promote sustainable registration systems, ensure children are able to access social services, and encourage enhanced training in developing countries to address registration.
Every year, 51 million children are unregistered at birth, leaving them without an official name or nationality. They are denied education and health services and are at risk of exploitation, violence, abuse, and underage recruitment into armed forces, all because they do not have a birth certificate.
A birth certificate is the foundation of protecting children,” said Jesse Eaves, World Vision’s Senior Policy Advisor for Child Protection. Eaves and his team advocated tirelessly for almost two years for passage of the bill. “Every child deserves to be counted by their government.”
The act does not call for new spending because funding for these programs has already been allocated. It simply ensures that the foundational step of birth registration is not overlooked amid all the other efforts to protect children.
“Birth registration is a simple, yet effective solution for decreasing the vulnerability of children and increasing the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance. The more governments that implement a streamlined birth registration system, the better they will be able to provide for their own citizens,” said Eaves. “The more governments provide for and support their citizens, the less US taxpayer money will be needed to support governments with weak, inefficient, or non-existent safety nets for children.”
The next step is for the US Senate to take up its own version of the bill, S.2591.
“Our thanks go out to the bipartisan group of champions for this bill,” said Eaves. “Our hope is that others will follow suit to ensure every child is counted and recognized.”
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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.
- Every year, 51 million children are never registered after birth.
- Birth registration gives children access to education, health care, and more.