WASHINGTON, DC (June 15, 2015) — World Vision applauds the passage and signing of the Girls Count Act. This important piece of legislation aims to prioritize the protection of all children through birth registration in U.S. foreign policy and assistance. The measure — sponsored by Rep. Chabot, Engel, Royce, McCollum, Sherman, and Smith and Sen. Rubio and Shaheen — could help give millions of children worldwide the basic right of having an official record of their birth.
“A simple piece of paper, a birth certificate, helps ensure that children are protected, have access to education, immunizations, and other social services. If children are separated from their parents as a result of natural disaster or conflict, a birth certificate, helps reunite them with their family more easily, The Girls Count Act will help ensure that the most vulnerable children are counted,” says Jessica Bousquette, World Vision’s policy advisor for child protection.
Only six out of 10 births are registered each day, leaving children at risk for abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence and invisible to their governments. Birth registration is central to the protection of children. Without it, children may be deprived of social services and legal protection and are at risk of child labor, early marriage, underage recruitment, or conscription into military service, and trafficking.
The Girls Count Act 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.
Of the bills introduced this session, only 4 percent have had a vote. The passage of the Girls Count Act came together with years of concerted efforts from advocates at all levels — coalitions of aid organizations, lawmakers, and thousands of everyday citizens.
World Vision supporters alone contacted Congress nearly 15,000 times urging them to support the legislation.
“At a time when the international community is working to empower women and girls socially, economically, and politically, birth registration remains an obstacle to girls experiencing life in all its fullness. The Girls Count Act directs the U.S. government to ensure that all children are able to be counted and cared for,” Bousquette said.
For more information about how children’s lives could be transformed through better registration data check out Uncounted and Unreached, a recent World Vision report.
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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.
- Worldwide one in three children under five do not have birth certificates.
- Lack of birth certificates makes children vulnerable to child labor, early marriage, exploitation.
- The Girls Count Act prioritizes birth registration of all children as part of U.S. foreign policy and assistance.