Washington, DC - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced $47 million in new initiatives during the launch of the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls at the Department of State today.

In his remarks, Secretary Kerry said that $40 million from PEPFAR’s $85 million DREAMS Innovation Challenge will help girls access and remain in secondary school. This is an important part of PEPFAR’s work to prevent HIV/AIDS in adolescent girls and young women, since access to education can decrease the likelihood of infection.

The remaining $7 million will go to empowering adolescent girls in Afghanistan, where the United States will fund efforts to change perceptions about early and forced marriage at the district and community level. The Afghanistan initiative will also increase adolescent girls’ education through grants for girls to go to school and support for counseling, networks for girls, and training on life and vocational skills. These efforts are part of the Afghan Women Leadership Initiative, a United States government program working to empower Afghan women and girls to fully participate in their communities.

The strategy launched by the Secretary is the first U.S. strategy to focus on this age group. It brings together four government agencies—the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Peace Corps, the State Department, and United States Agency for International Development—to address challenges related to adolescent girls’ safety, health, and education.

To implement the strategy, the Department will focus on three priorities: legal and policy frameworks that protect adolescent girls’ rights, including access to education; early and forced marriage and its consequences for married girls; and female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C). These priorities also reflect the Department’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.