Make sure Girls (and boys) Count!

UPDATE!  President Obama signs Girls Count Act into law!

After sailing through the Senate and the House of Representatives, on June 12, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Girls Count Act!  That means we can work with our partners in the NGO community and the U.S. Government to implement this legislation, and help more children have access to birth registration.

Your support and action helped drive the unanimous Congressional support for this legislation, and kids around the world will benefit from it.  Thank you!

 

According to UNICEF, in 2012 alone, 57 million infants – four out of every ten babies delivered worldwide that year – did not have their births registered with civil authorities.

A little baby wearing a hat

A mother displays her child's short birth certificate generated by Mobile Vital  Records System (Mobile VRS) © UNICEF/UGDA201300588/Sibiloni

Birth registration is a fundamental human right that can safeguard children from harm and exploitation. Without an age established by birth certificate, it is much harder to protect children from child labor, treatment as an adult in justice systems, conscription in armed forces, child marriage, and trafficking. Birth registration is also needed to ensure that children have access to basic services, such as education, public health services, social protection services, and employment opportunities.

For girls, the lack of birth registration can be especially dangerous, as girls are already more likely to lack access to education, to face exploitation and abuse, and to be married early.

Take Action to Support Birth Registration

Surprisingly, birth registration is not a priority for U.S. Government development assistance programs.  Bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and the Senate, the Girls Count Act of 2015 (S. 802 and H.R. 2100) would change that.  The legislation directs the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator to support programs to improve Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems (CRVS), with a focus on birth registration, to help ensure that girls and boys of all ages can be full participants in society.

UNICEF USA would like to express its appreciation for the legislators who took the lead on the Girls Count Act:  Senator Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Shaheen (D-NH); and Representatives Chabot (R-IN), Royce (R-CA), McCollum (D-MN), Smith (R-NJ), and Sherman (D-CA).