January 2015, Update: The Girls Count Act did not pass during the 113th Congress. In 2015 we are waiting for reintroduction of the bill. Sign up for updates from Beyond 5 to receive the latest news on ways you can take action.

Today the House of Representatives voted to pass the Girls Count Act, H.R.3398.

Earlier this month, we asked advocates like you to remind Congress that kids can not afford a lame duck session. Within a couple of days, over 1,000 emails were sent to members of Congress, asking lawmakers to support the Girls Count Act and the Water for the World Act. Today, your voice was heard!

The Girls Count Act prioritizes birth registration of all children as a component of U.S. foreign policy and assistance. It 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.

“A birth certificate is the foundation of protecting children,” said Jesse Eaves, World Vision’s senior policy adviser for child protection, who advocated for the passage of the bill. “Every child deserves to be counted by their government.

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 U.S. taxpayer money will be needed to support governments with weak, inefficient, or non-existent safety nets for children.”

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.

What’s next?

The next step is for the U.S. 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.”

  • Email your senators [this action has expired] and ask them to support the Girls Count Act.
  • Go one step further and make a phone call to your senators [this action has expired] to let them know that you would like them to vote yes on the Girls Count Act.

Photo: © 2007 World Vision/ photo by Enda Balina

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