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Women hold signs reading "I am with her" (L) and "the time to save it is now" as they march against climate change in Mexico City last September.
Women hold signs reading "I am with her" (L) and "the time to save it is now" as they march against climate change in Mexico City last September. (RODRIGO ARANGUA/Getty)

All over the world there are countless girls with the potential to be their nation’s next great leader. Smart, capable and ambitious girls have the drive to succeed, but their capacity to do so is often limited by existing gender-based barriers they face. The inclusion of girls in the international political sphere would undoubtedly have a beneficial impact on policy. When their perspectives are included, policy can be more compassionate and effective. We need U.S. legislation that aims to address this problem of exclusion. If young girls are encouraged to take on leadership roles, they will have the confidence and skills to continue as leaders in adulthood. Through their inclusion, girls can express their ideas and build the skills that will serve them, and their communities, for the rest of their lives.

Recently, the Girls LEAD Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin, was introduced in the U.S. Senate. If passed, this legislation will improve U.S. foreign assistance so that girls around the world will be more equipped to take on leadership roles and increase their civic and political participation in their communities and countries, but also globally. Senator Cardin is a longstanding champion for women and girls, and I applaud his most recent effort to address global gender inequality. By empowering girls as they navigate adolescence, the U.S. can promote a pipeline for the next generation of women leaders.

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As the mother of two young girls and as a middle school teacher, I feel strongly about this. Every day I witness the power, intellect and ambition of young girls, and I am proud to empower them to realize and seize their potential. I firmly believe that each and every girl, no matter the country they live in, deserves the opportunity to learn, lead and be empowered. Therefore, I commend Senator Cardin for sponsoring the Girls LEAD Act. I am certain our world will be all the better for it.

Kristen Chrobocinski, Burtonsville

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