HWS President Mark D. Gearan joined Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and other national service leaders on Tuesday, March 3, for the Obama Administration’s launch of expanded efforts to help adolescent girls across the globe attend and complete school through the Let Girls Learn initiative.
President and Mrs. Obama are championing the effort, which builds upon a public engagement campaign launched last summer by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The First Lady and members of the Peace Corps are working on the initiative to support community-generated and community-led girls’ education projects worldwide. As former Director of the Peace Corps, Gearan was invited by The White House to join the Let Girls Learn effort.
“I was honored to attend the launch of Let Girls Learn,” Gearan said. “Efforts around the world to develop, expand and support educational opportunities for girls are critical to the betterment of our communities. I look forward to the continued engagement around this collaborative effort.”
The event coincided with the International Girls’ Education Celebration at the White House, which is being held in honor of International Women’s Day. Calling for greater equality, International Women’s Day is an annual, worldwide celebration of the achievements of women which began in 1911.
Building upon investments and successes already achieved, the Let Girls Learn initiative will help adolescent girls complete their education and pursue broader aspirations. According to the White House, “Sixty-two million girls around the world – half of whom are adolescent – are not in school.” These girls have “diminished economic opportunities and are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, early and forced marriage, and other forms of violence.”
In the first year of the Let Girls Learn collaboration, Peace Corps leadership will initially focus on 11 different countries where volunteers can work to making an impact. Those nations are: Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo and Uganda.
Through the Let Girls Learn initiative, various agencies across the U.S. government have been collaborating on efforts to support adolescent girls in attending school and seeking educational success. In doing so, the initiative has formed strategic partnerships and diplomatic efforts, including programs in education; empowerment/leadership; health and nutrition; preventing gender-based violence; preventing child, early and forced marriage; and partnerships with bilateral and multi-lateral partners.
As one of our nation’s leading experts on the intersection of higher education and civic engagement, Gearan has held numerous leadership roles in public service including serving as Director of the Peace Corps from 1995-1999. As a member and former chair of the Talloires Network Steering Committee, an international association of more than 200 institutions on six continents committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education, he has fostered a global culture of service. As the past chair of the Board of Directors of both National Campus Compact and the Corporation for National and Community Service, he has similarly supported civic engagement activities in the United States. With extensive credentials in public policy, he also served as Assistant to the President, Director of Communications and Deputy Chief of Staff in the Clinton White House. Gearan is a former member of the White House Council for Community Solutions, a group of cross-sector leaders appointed by Obama to recommend collaborative solutions to increase civic engagement. Since 1999, Gearan has led Hobart and William Smith Colleges during a period of unprecedented growth and development. In the upstate New York region, Gearan serves on the advisory councils of the Happiness House Foundation, Ontario ARC and the Geneva Community Center, and is a founding member of Geneva 2020.
In the photo above, President Mark D. Gearan (right) is joined by Former Senator Harris Wofford, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and Colombia RPCV Maureen Orth.