On July 14, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the Girl Up Leadership Summit! There was a line through the lobby and down the stairs as participants and chaperones eagerly tried to get seats in the hall, and the energy in the room was at an all-time high. The room was packed with 225 girls all rapt with attention as the First Lady talked about one of Girl Up’s five main pillars – education.
The most captivating part of her speech was when the First Lady put all of us in the shoes of the 62 million girls who can’t go to school. “Think about what it would be like to see your brothers going off to school every day while you were stuck at home,” she said.
It struck me how different my life would have been had I been born somewhere else in the world. As the younger sister of two brothers, I would most likely already have a husband and kids. And I’m only 15 years old! The money from my marriage might have been spent to keep my brothers in school for a few more years while I stayed at home. I wouldn’t be educated and I wouldn’t have a voice.
During her speech, Mrs. Obama pointed out that “an education doesn’t just transform a girl’s life, it transforms their communities, too.” This statement resonated deeply with me. Statistics show that girls reinvest 90 percent of their income into their family and communities, compared to only 30-40 percent for boys. This is why educating girls is so important: When a girl is educated she is more likely to educate her children, and her children will be more likely to educate their children, leading to a more educated society. Adolescent girls are the future of their countries and their voices can move mountains if we let them speak.
“You all are here today because someone believed in you, because someone gave you the chance to be everything you would wantto be,” the First Lady told us. And she’s right. Now it’s our job to be there for the 62 million girls who don’t have anyone who believes in them. The first step towards educating these girls is to have faith in them and give them the opportunity to go to school.
Once they have that chance, they truly can change the world.