The Trump administration plans to end Michelle and Barack Obama’s collaborative program with the Peace Corps to help adolescent girls worldwide attend and complete school, according to an email obtained by CNN.
The email, sent to Peace Corps employees by their director Sheila Crowley, states: “Moving forward, we will not continue to use the ‘Let Girls Learn’ brand or maintain a standalone program.”
Spearheaded by Mrs. Obama in 2015, the initiative worked to recruit and train about 650 volunteers to focus specifically on adolescent girls’ access to education. The volunteers were charged with starting conversations in the communities to figure out what’s keeping girls from school, then working with leaders, parents and the girls themselves to come up with ways to remove those barriers.
While originally representatives for first lady Melania Trump declined to comment on the matter, multiple White House spokespeople have denied the report.
“There have been no changes to ‘Let Girls Learn’ program,” the United States Agency for International Development said in a statement. “The administration supports policies and programs to empower adolescent girls, including efforts to educate them through the completion of secondary school. We are committed to empowering women and girls around the world and are continuing to examine the best ways to do so.”
Despite these claims, the Trump administration has neglected to comment about whether they will discontinue the “Let Girls Learn” branding or if it will continue to function as a standalone program.
Many have expressed alarm at what the loss of its message would mean for young women, pointing out that the name and branding of the initiative was what connected with the public and allowed its success.
“If this administration wants to move in a different direction on girls’ education, that’s certainly their right and understandable, but to tear down a message that was erected in the wake of this terrible incident that happened in Nigeria, and that the world rallied around, I think it is really shameful,” Brett Plitt Bruen, an Obama administration official who worked on the program, told the New York Times.
Media Resources: CNN 5/1/2017; Feminist Majority Foundation 5/4/2015; The Los Angeles Times 5/2/2017; The New York Times 5/1/2017