government shutdownAs the current government shutdown stretches into day 21, the effects are starting to show. But, the effects of the current shutdown aren’t just being felt at home. The cuts to funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have been felt around the world. Here is the cost of the government shutdown on foreign aid.

Who is Affected By the Shutdown?

The partial shutdown began on December 22 when Congress and the President were unable to come to an agreement on funding for Trump’s border wall. Since then, it has affected multiple federal departments including Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, State and USAID. More than 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or forced to work without pay, and the effects have been far-reaching. National parks have been shut down, airline travel has been strained and immigration courts have been backlogged.

USAID, which was created by President Kennedy in the 1960s, began as a way to lead international development and humanitarian services. Due to the cuts from the shutdown, about half of the agency’s employees have been furloughed, making it hard for the agency to continue operations. Previously funded projects and NGOs will continue to operate, but no new funding will be started or given. Furthermore, interaction and oversight from the department have steeply declined, decreasing the effectiveness of all programs.

Foreign Affairs

U.S. foreign development and affairs are not the only areas being impacted. The State Department has been affected by the shutdown as well. The State Department represents the government in foreign affairs, and many of its 75,000 employees work overseas. Since funding to the State Department has been cut off, most of those employees are not working or are working for no pay, meaning that all foreign relations are “running on fumes.” This is a problem because, without proper funding, the department cannot continue to do the tasks assigned to it, like alleviating tensions in the middle east.

In terms of the world’s poor, the loss of activity at both the USAID and the State Department will have a huge impact. Without any new funding or programs that help struggling nations with water and sanitation, health, education and climate change, the Agency for International Development will not be able to continue its work of providing humanitarian assistance to struggling nations.

The current shutdown, which is tied for the longest shutdown in history, has no end in sight. The continued lack of funding for USAID and the State Department means that the cost of the government shutdown on foreign aid will be huge. Since USAID works in more than 100 countries, the cost of the government shutdown will be felt by millions around the world. Without a fully functioning State Department to conduct diplomacy abroad, the situation will only get worse.

Peter Zimmerman

Photo: Pixabay

 NigeriaAccess to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is a core necessity for human survival that a large portion of the world, especially developing countries, still struggle to meet.

In Nigeria, UNICEF reported that close to 70 million people, out of the total population of 171 million, lacked access to clean water, while 110 million lacked access to sanitation in 2013. The impact of this shortage is dire as 124,000 children under the age of five die because of diarrhea that is mainly caused by unsafe water, bad sanitation and bad hygiene. Moreover, it decreases school enrollment and disproportionately affects girls who bare the responsibility of carrying water. Finding the solution for Nigeria’s water quality is, therefore, a pressing issue that requires all responsible parties to participate.

Obstacles In Meeting Water Quality Standards

Gbenga Ashiru, the producer of Question Time, a Nigerian news program that profiles the activities and accountability portfolio of office holders, discussed the reasons behind Africa’s largest economy reaching a peak in a shortage of potable water. He dissected what he states is the “mystery” behind the Nigerian government’s, led by the Minister of Water Resources, inability to meet water demands. Ashiru highlighted the extreme water shortage and listed the shocking statistics of potable water and sanitation coverage at 7 percent and 29 percent, respectively. 

Four months ago, the Nigerian government launched the Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality to revitalize the access to safe drinking water throughout the nation to achieve goal number six of the Sustainable Development Goals. At the launching ceremony, Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, asserted that finding the solution for Nigeria’s water quality issue is the current focus of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. 

Nigeria’s Water Act

According to UNICEF, Nigeria has indeed taken the steps to improve this pertinent issue through the development of various policies and strategies. However, a deterioration in water quality and access portrayed by a 25 percent drop of pipe borne water supply since 1990, reveals the difficulty of translating the solution to Nigeria’s water quality issues into action. 

Nigeria’s Water Act states that the Federal government of Nigeria funds 30 percent, local government funds 10 percent, while state government covers 60 percent of the funding of water projects along with the full responsibility of operation. Suleiman Adamu, in his interview with Ashiru, argues that the Water Act is neither feasible nor effective policy in meeting water and sanitation demands and calls for an amendment of this legislation as well as the gradual privatization of this sector. 

Fostering Synergy and Collaboration

Suleiman Adamu holds the state government responsible for not meeting their end of the bargain. He explains that even in cases where the federal government went beyond the 30 percent of the funding and invested in water treatment facilities, the states failed to carry out the operations. He argues that this happens due to state government officials neglecting pressing water demands that require long periods of gestation and focus on short-term projects to show results during re-election. Therefore, the solution for Nigeria’s water quality issues lies in finding the amendment of this policy that has created obstacles for the synergy in the federal, regional and local governments. 

Since water projects are a primary responsibility of state government, bringing progress at a national scale requires synergy in state and federal government. The Minister explains that the federal government will work on achieving this collaboration through advocacy and offering supervision rather than simply giving funding without aligned priorities. 

Bilen Kassie 

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) signed the Dayton Accords twenty-three years ago to ensure peace throughout the country. However, Bosnians were left picking up the pieces from the war and many still deal with the mental, emotional and economic effects today. According to The World Bank, as of 2015,
16.9 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s population lives below the poverty line.

Complicated Government

The Dayton agreement split Bosnia and Herzegovina into two parts: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska. The Dayton Accords ended conflict but put a hold on ethnic disputes within the country, thereby leaving a complex system of governance.

According to an article by The Guardian, “Since the end of the war, political allegiance has been usually based on ethnic identity.” Many people throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina want an end to corrupt politicians and want their leaders to focus on the country’s economic stagnation and unemployment.

Why is Unemployment So High?

As stated above, the political system of Bosnia and Herzegovina is anything but simple. Due to ethnic and political divides, the country still deals with constant tension.

Many companies and investors were hurt by the war; therefore, investors are hesitant to invest in the country. This absence leaves Bosnia and Herzegovina to rely on its domestic companies. The government’s partition widely affects the security of the job market, placing a major hindrance on the people.

Inequality

One major cause of poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina is inequality in the workforce between men and women. Not only do women have unequal opportunities in the workforce, but there are a lack of women who participate in the workforce in the first place. In addition, women’s incomes are usually less than their male counterparts.

However, the country’s efforts to transform its workforce cannot be ignored. The country has implemented laws to increase women’s participation in the labor market, and have even enforced laws to ensure representation in politics. According to a report by the World Bank, “The Election Law of BiH stresses that election candidates’ list must include both male and female candidates. The number of candidates of the less represented sex must be at least equal to a third of the total number of candidates on the list.”

Further Progress

There have been numerous programs implemented towards addressing poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina — for instance, the 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina Support Employment Program. The goal of this program is to “increase formal private sector employment among targeted groups of registered job seekers.”

In this way, the program will reach out to help the government improve the effectiveness of labor market programs and implement an effective communication strategy to help job seekers. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also made efforts to help alleviate poverty, such as through a program run by UNICEF. UNICEF’s program helps Roma, one of the largest minorities in BiH), mothers by holding classes on nutrition, breastfeeding and raising healthy children in hopes of breaking the cycle of child poverty throughout the country.

Although efforts have been made, it is crucial that the country continues to work to end corruption, ensure gender equality in the workforce, work towards improving ethnic divides in order to address poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina and secure a better quality of life for all its people.

– Emma Martin
Photo: Flickr

How Improving Governance Helps Growth in Developing Countries
It’s all too true that in most developing or vulnerable countries, local or national governments are tyrannical and corrupt. These governments have a propensity to abuse power, favor the rich and ignore the oppressed. However, by improving governance in the developing world, there is hope that unethical practices will be removed and replaced with unprejudiced laws that will fairly benefit everyone.

Problems Surrounding Corrupt Government

Numerous problems surrounding nefarious practices in underdeveloped countries stem from a lack of morality, discriminatory systems and misuse of power. The World Bank reports that in vulnerable countries, a disparate sharing of authority is a common problem that causes countries to stay in a state of impoverishment rather than move toward more progressive procedures that would allow for quicker growth and sustainability.

Unfortunately, it’s easier for the already-powerful leaders to resist change rather than consider the development of new policies for improving governance to benefit the whole society, regardless of economic class.

Additionally, there are many other factors that contribute to shady practices in the governments of developing countries. One of these practices is patrimonialism, which is defined in the Encyclopedia Britannica as a “political organization in which authority is based primarily on the personal power exercised by a ruler, either directly or indirectly.” This means that too much power can easily be granted to one person or group of persons (oligarchy), rather than having different governmental branches to limit what can and cannot be done.

What Steps Can be Taken Towards Improving Governance?

In a patrimonialistic society, the land or state is “owned” by a leader, granting that person the freedom to do as he, she, or they please. This power structure contributes to the cycle of poverty — wealthy land is distributed to the other wealthy people, allowing those choice few to access the best schools, homes and healthcare; on the other hand, the slums are given to the lower class, eliminating chances to thrive in a fair economy. Ultimately, this system halts economic growth for all the citizens.

The OECD Observer gives two good examples of a patrimonialistic society; the first being Morocco, where admittance to bureaucracy protects access to economic benefits, and the next being in the Philippines, where political sovereignty can be bought and sold.

Citizen-Based Elections

A great way to combat corruption, poverty and improve economic growth is by initializing citizen-based elections. According to USAID, more than half of the world’s populace live under only partly free governments, which limits their civil liberties, causing the inability to freely engage in politics. In democratic elections, the people are granted a voice in choosing who they wish to run their government.

USAID easily lays out the course for democratic elections. The steps include freedom of speech, association and assembly; elections as an essential tool to bolster political openings and cooperation; assembling advocates and describing different political platforms to the public and encouraging political debate.

Education

Another step toward improving governance is creating equal educational opportunities for all people. A large problem in the political sphere of third-world countries is the lack of education that causes many citizens who live in poverty to not fully understand politics; in turn they lack the skills to actively participate in events such as elections or assemblies.

Not only will education improve political understandings, but it will create jobs and give students the skills needed to be seen as valuable by future employers, improving economic growth and sustainability. With higher education comes higher knowledge and realization, skills that permit citizens to see and understand what areas in their countries need change.

Public Policy and Building Democracy

One of the best ways to promote better government is through improving public policy and actively working on building a democracy. In the developing world, the people and citizens are often ignored, and their opinions are thought to be arbitrary and unimportant to those high on the political spectrum.

However, in a democratic society, the people get to vote in elections for issues such as industrial projects and new laws. To help aid in understanding public policy and democracy, The World Bank created the Governance Global Practice, which aims to initiate trust between the government and the people.

Despite all of the concerns facing governments in third-world countries, these nation-states are not hopeless. Many countries work towards improving governance and government practices. In fact, organizations such as The World Bank, USAID and the United Nations provide hope for those searching for a better quality of life, and thereby foster countries to work towards a brighter future.  

– Rebecca Lee
Photo: Flickr

Types of Government Systems
Aristotle was the first to define three principal types of government systems in the fourth century B.C. These consisted of monarchy, aristocracy and polity. Since then, many more have been formulated, but the main themes and ideas have remained. Today, the five most common government systems include democracy, republic, monarchy, communism and dictatorship. This list details what to know about each.

Five Types of Government Systems

  1. Democracy
    A democracy can be defined as a government system with supreme power placed in the hands of the people. It can be traced back to as early as the fifth century B.C. In fact, the word democracy is Greek for “people power”. While most use the United States as an example of a democratic government system, the United States actually has what is called a representative democracy. The difference lies in the method of civilian participation. In a direct democracy, every citizen is given an equal say in the government. In a representative democracy, citizens elect representatives who make the law. The difference is significant when put into action. Other examples of democratic states include Aruba, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
  2. Republic
    In a republic government system, the power also rests with the people, as they are in charge of electing or choosing the country’s leader, instead of the leader being appointed or inheriting power. Broadly defined, a republic is a government system without a monarch. A republic may be governed by a group of nobles, as long as there is not a single monarch. Some examples of countries with a republic government system include Argentina, Bolivia, Czech Republic and France.
  3. Monarchy
    In a monarchy, state power is held by a single family that inherits rule from one generation to the next. In a monarchy, an individual from the royal family holds the position of power until they die. Today, the majority of monarchy governments have transitioned to constitutional monarchies, where the monarch is head of state but only performs ceremonial roles and does not have state power. Only a few countries still have systems where the monarch retains control; these include Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Swaziland.
  4. Communism
    A communist government system is usually based on a particular ideology of communism taught by Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin. A single party or group of people usually runs communist states. In some cases, citizens of a communist state are given certain jobs or life duties in an effort to obtain collective citizenship for the state. Examples of communist states include China, Cuba and Vietnam.
  5. Dictatorship
    In a dictatorship, a single person, a dictator, has absolute power over the state. It is not necessarily ruled by a theology or belief. It is an authoritarian form of government where one person is in charge of enforcing and enacting the law. Aspects often include military organizational backing, unfair elections (if any) and various human rights violations. A dictator does not usually inherit their power like a monarch does; they either seize control of the state by force or through (usually unfair) elections. Dictators are not held accountable for their actions and thus are free to do as they please, including limiting citizens’ rights. Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and North Korea are contemporary examples of countries run by a dictator.

While these types of government systems all vary, they have at least one similarity: the allocation of power. Whether it be the allocation of power to a single person, a group of people, or evenly distributed to everyone, power is the shared theme of all types of government systems.

– Haley Hine
Photo: Flickr


There has been a battle over national governance in Libya ever since the dismantling of the Muammar Gaddafi authoritarian regime in the 2011 Arab Spring. A majority of Libyans are hopeful for a unified democratic governance in Libya; unfortunately, the Fragile State Index has listed Libya in the top 25 most fragile states in the world.

Political History in Libya

Dr. Federica Saini Fasanotti, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, described that “Libya has never been (truly) unified.” In a conversation on October 6, 2017 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) headquarters, Dr. Fasanotti described the historical significance of conflicts and changes of power in relation to rule of law in Libya.

Throughout the history of Libya, the state had many different rulers, contributing to the divided government. Up until 1911, the country was an autonomous territory under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. After 1911, Libya was controlled by the Italians in the western world’s quest for colonies. Then, in 1951, the Allied powers of World War II granted Libya independence, and the state created a federal constitution and monarchy; in 1969, Muammar Gaddafi led a coup d’état of the monarch.

Local, Regional and Strategic Issues

Dr. Fasanotti described the three fundamental issues to democratic governance in Libya. The local issue is the many internal divisions caused by the history of political upheavals and usage of tactics like Gaddafi’s ‘divide and rule’ concept — a tactic where  different ethnicities and tribes are pitted against one another. The regional issue is the absence of current leadership to direct the country on the path of democratic governance. The strategic issue is the presence of terrorism, troublesome migration patterns and economic beneficial resources.

Alice Hunt Friend, a Senior Fellow with the International Security Program at the CSIS, stated,“It is very hard to take these complex, contingent situations and hundreds of years of history and translate it into prescriptive policies.”

Civil Society Formation by USAID

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports the project of Libya Elections and Governance Support Program to create effective practices for sub-national governance. The duration of the program is from October 2012 to September 2019.

The goal of creating municipal governments in Libya has served as an attempt to fill the national governance void. In the southern desert city of Sabha, the USAID assisted in the formation of a community center to provide the citizens the opportunity to engage in the decision-making process.

Uniting Communities

The community center attempts to create partnerships between people of different ethnicities and tribes to form ideas out of mutual interest. The additional partnership between local leaders and citizens assists in creating transparency and credibility with the government.

To have local municipalities work together to create a stable national government — like the community center in Sabha — is the goal of the civil society formation by the USAID; local authorities’ soft power has extremely high value. 

Democratic governance in Libya has a formulation in municipalities and initiatives at the local level that once implemented, can reach national proportions.

– Andrea Quade
Photo: Flickr

Rule of Law in Saudi Arabia
The rule of law in Saudi Arabia
was developed and strengthened through a partnership between the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Prince Sultan University College of Law in Saudi Arabia.

American Bar Association

The ABA was formed more than 130 years ago at a time when lawyers generally worked with domestic matters and learned the law trade by apprenticeship. International law, though, was a theme of one of the seven committees first established by the ABA, and acknowledged the importance of law in a global setting.

Lewis Powell wrote in 1965 as the ABA president about the association’s endeavor to identify “what lawyers can do of a practical character to advance the rule of law among nations.” He also identified that “the only viable alternative to the rule of force is the rule of law.”

In today’s globalized society, the ABA enforces the importance of rule of law or democratic governance in many nations like Saudi Arabia. The association states that an impartial and calculable rule of law in a country will lead to good international relations.

Rule of Law Initiative

The Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI) was created by the ABA and acts as an international development initiative to advocate for justice, economic opportunity and human dignity through the rule of law.

The initiative identifies that breaches in the rule of law have bolstered many international challenges, encompassing health pandemics, migrants escaping poverty, vicious extremism, and illegal trade of weapons, drugs and human beings. Promoting the rule of law would help alleviate these challenges, create national security and furnish economic opportunities both in the affected nation and in the United States.

Since the first rule of law program in 1990 worked exclusively in Central and Eastern Europe, the ABA then created rule of law initiatives in other nations. In 2007, the ABA decided to consolidate the five overseas rule of law programs to formulate the ROLI. 

Today, the ROLI program and more than $40 million in annual funding from governmental and private donors combines staff and consultants to work with the pro-bono expertise of ABA members to promote legal reforms in more than 50 countries.

The five core principles of the institution are:

  • Partnership
  • Empowerment
  • Inclusivity
  • Universality
  • Sustainability

To prioritize sustainable solutions to the rule of law challenge, the ROLI collaborates with in-country partners, encompassing government ministries, judges, lawyers, bar associations, law schools, court administrators, legislatures and civil society organizations. Rule of law in Saudi Arabia and other nations bolsters a more peaceful world.

ABA ROLI Partnership with Prince Sultan University

Beginning on January 21, 2018, the ABA ROLI and the Prince Sultan University College of Law in Saudi Arabia combined forces to teach 26 female law students applicable skills like accounting principles applicable to legal practice, law practice management, legal writing and oral advocacy.

The project consisted of a month-long series of classes with each week presenting on one of the applicable skills to the legal practice. The classes were taught by five pro-bono legal experts from the United States, bringing decades of legal experience to share with the aspiring law students.

This month-long development session was the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, and it provided practical skills courses that allowed female law students to gain experience on successful strategies for advancing their legal professions.

The ABA ROLI partners with many law schools worldwide to advance curricula, create clinical legal programs and strengthen skills-building activities. As evidenced by the partnership for rule of law in Saudi Arabia, the association’s assistance in preparing the next generation of legal professionals serves as a wonderful omen for future success.

– Andrea Quade

Photo: Flickr

how to write the PresidentThe President of the United States may seem out of reach to everyday constituents who do not hold any government office. Fortunately, the U.S. democracy is such that essentially anyone can reach the White House. The official website of the president, whitehouse.gov, makes information for contacting the nation’s highest office readily available. Web visitors can find phone numbers, with telecommunications options available for the deaf or mute, online. Furthermore, there is a form built into the site for easy email correspondence.

Though calling and emailing are fast and convenient communication methods, there may be a circumstance that calls for a letter. While the website provides basic information about how to write the president, there are a few other things a potential correspondent may want to consider:

The Paper

The White House recommends that correspondents compose their letter on 8.5 by 11-inch paper, which is the standard size for most ruled and printer paper. There are no guidelines about weight, color or fiber; communicators are free to choose whatever paper they feel is appropriate. That being said, the letter is going to pass through many hands once it arrives at the White House, so durability is an important consideration.

The Method

Choosing between a typed letter and a handwritten letter is an important decision about how to write the president. While handwritten letters tend to come across as more personal, they may be illegible. Should a correspondent choose to send a handwritten letter, use a dark ink pen and write neatly. Avoid using cursive or writing small. For typed letters, stick to a 10 to 12-point font size and avoid flowery, cursive-looking fonts.

The Message

Threats aside, correspondents can write the president about any number of topics. Whether someone wishes to voice their support or frustration, advocate for policy, give their opinion or share a personal anecdote, the White House is receptive to correspondence from the public. Letter writers should keep in mind that the president holds the highest office in the nation, and that alone garners some level of deference. Regardless of personal political opinion, it is wise to use a respectful tone when addressing the president, even if the purpose of the letter is to express discontent.

Enclosures

The White House cannot accept monetary contributions in any form. If a correspondent chooses to enclose any additional documents or photographs, it is likely that they may not be returned. Furthermore, these items may be damaged during the security screening process.

The Volume

The White House receives tens of thousands of letters and packages on a daily basis. The Office of Presidential Correspondence is the government body that receives all of these letters. Within this office, staffers, interns and volunteers are tasked with the responsibility of reading all of these letters. Generally, correspondents should not expect that their letter will actually be read by the president, although there is a chance that it may. Former President Obama made it his policy to read ten letters every night, chosen by the Director of Presidential Correspondence. President Trump may hold his own letter-reading regimen.

Though there is no real way to ensure that any particular letter makes it to the president’s desk, Fiona Reeves, who served as the Director of Presidential Correspondence during the Obama administration, provided a few insights in an interview with 99% Invisible. Reeves explained that her team sought out mail “that is geographically diverse . . . [with] different writing styles . . . and ways of communicating.” The point of passing letters on to the president is to give him a sense of what really matters to the American people. A pointed letter that helps the president feel the country’s pulse may very well find its way to the Oval Office.

Mailing

The final consideration for how to write the president has to do with the mailing. Correspondents should address their letters to:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC, 20500

Ensure to include a return address on the letter. Place a stamp in the upper right corner and mail as usual or visit a local post office for expedited mailing options. Choosing to write to the White House is an empowering civic opportunity available to anyone. Sending mail to the president is an opportunity to advocate for policies that alleviate global poverty.

– Chantel Baul

Photo: Google

Contact the White HouseGetting in touch with the President of the United States to let the White House know opinions on certain matters of the government, just to say hello or to send a gift is surprisingly easier than most would think. There are multiple ways to get a message to the nation’s leader. One can contact the White House by email, written mail, packages or by phone. The quickest way to get in touch with the White House, according to its official website, is by email.

Emailing the White House

Emailing is both the quickest and simplest way to get in touch with the President of the United States. The White House has a form on its website on which one can fill out their email address. The form asks for the message type, full name, email, phone number, address and provides a text box to compose the message. Unfortunately, the White House cannot respond to every message due to the large volume of messages it receives.

Want to know how to contact the White House the old-fashioned way? A written letter to the White House should be on an 8.5”-by-11” sheet of paper. If hand-written, the letter should be written in ink pen as neatly as possible. Both the actual letter and the front of the envelope should include a return address. The front of the envelope should also read the White House address:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

To contact the White house with a package, use the same address as written above on the top of the package. Sending gifts to the White House is allowed; however, the President and First Lady encourage all citizens to send contributions to their favorite charities in place of sending gifts to them. If one still wishes to send a package to the First Family, the White House prohibits food, liquid or flowers, and it is not able to accept cash, checks, bonds, gift certificates or foreign currency. If sending a package, there will be a significant delay and it is more likely to be harmed throughout the screening process of security. Any items sent will not be returned.

How to Contact the White House

Contacting the White House to send announcements and invitations is also possible, as long as one follows the guidelines. There is a possibility that one would receive a greeting back if the required information is filled out and the sender has given the greeting office enough notice.

Contacting the White House can be an exciting and patriotic thing to do for all Americans. Whether it is to send greetings or to let the government hear your voice on a certain matter, it is always encouraged to contact the White House.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nita LoweyRepresentative Nita Lowey has been a key Congressional proponent for prioritizing educational opportunity in foreign aid and development programs. She is an outspoken advocate for women, children and families, championing issues related to education in the United States and abroad.

Currently serving her 15th term in Congress representing New York’s 17th district, Rep. Lowey was the first woman to serve as a Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Nita Lowey, along with Congressmen Dave Reichert, introduced the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act, to enhance transparency and accelerate the impact of U.S. basic education programs around the world. The READ Act passed into law on September 8, 2017.

The READ Act calls for:

  • Engagement with key partner countries and nongovernmental institutions to promote sustainable, quality basic education.
  • A comprehensive, integrated U.S. strategy that improves educational opportunities and addresses key barriers to school attendance, retention and completion for the poorest children worldwide.
  • A senior coordinator within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to oversee the education aspects of foreign aid.
  • An annual report to Congress on the implementation of the basic education strategy and progress achieved by USAID programs.

Worldwide, more than 263 million children and youth are out of school. In addition, 250 million primary school age children are lacking basic literacy and numeracy skills. Studies have shown that for every year a girl stays in school, her future income increases by 15 to 25 percent.

Rep. Nita Lowey strongly believes that prioritizing education around the world will “ultimately protect vulnerable children from poverty, disease, hunger and even extremism.”

On why the READ Act is such an important piece of legislation, Rep. Lowey’s Press Secretary Mike Burns told The Borgen Project:

“Without a doubt, education is the greatest force multiplier in foreign aid. The READ Act will enhance our global education efforts, removing barriers to education for those out of school and improving the quality of education for those already enrolled. Prioritizing education around the world will not only help students learn to read and write—it will ultimately help protect vulnerable communities from hunger and disease and increase economic advancement, particularly for girls and women.

“Simply put, by putting education at the center of our efforts, this bill moves us further down the path to building the world we want for ourselves and for future generations. This is a tremendous bipartisan achievement.”

Rep. Nita Lowey continues to be a leading Congressional proponent of educational opportunity, a leading international role for the United States, health care quality and biomedical research, stricter public safety laws, environmental protection, women’s issues, national security and improved homeland security preparedness.

– Sydney Lacey

Photo: Google