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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

First Lady passionate about "letting girls learn"

It's no surprise that Michelle Obama is championing the cause for education for all girls.  Even with the prestigious title of First Lady of the United States (or FLOTUS) and mom to first daughters Malia and Sasha Obama, she will tell you that she's a mom (in chief)  - first. 

Understanding that education is the key to the success of girls, everywhere, she has teamed up with the Peace Corps, and other government agencies, to spread the word about 'Let Girls Learn', an initiative to expand access to education for girls around the world.

First Lady Michelle Obama talks to young women at a 'Let Girls Learn' event in Washington.  Photo/CD Brown.

Adolescent girls with an education are more likely to earn a better living for herself, her family and community. The fact is, girls with a secondary education - in particular - are more likely to marry later, have children later in life, have lower birth rates and lower infant mortality rates and low rates of HIV.

Yet, in many developing countries across the world receiving an education for girls can be an arduous proposition.

Explained First Lady Obama to a room full of promising young women at Washington, D.C.'s W Hotel yesterday, "And many of them simply can’t afford tuition, because unlike here in America, in many countries, parents have to pay to send their kids to school.  And sometimes, the nearest school might be miles away, and it’s simply not safe for girls to walk to and from each day.  Or even if there is a school nearby, it might not have adequate bathroom facilities, so when girls have their periods, they have to stay home.  And then they fall behind and wind up dropping out.  And then in some communities, girls are forced to get married and have children at a very young age -– sometimes before they’re even teenagers – so they never have a chance to finish their education. 

"Imagine having to drop out of school at the age of 12 or 13 and marry some man in his forties or fifties, and then have your first baby by the time you’re 14 or 15", said the first lady to the back drop of played songs like Aretha Franklin's 'RESPECT', Beyonc√©'s Run the World (Girl), and Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off".

It is estimated that there are 62 million girls who face these challenges world-wide.

The Peace Corps, with its more than 7,000 volunteers, is working side-by-side with grassroots organizations, family and community agencies to fund projects designed to break down educational barriers in countries like Albania, Benin, Cambodia, Ghana, Moldova and others, with additional countries to be added in the first year. 

A 'girl up' ambassador talks education with an supporter.
 Photo/CD Brown.
GirlUp, a United Nations Foundation initiative whose slogan is, "Every girl deserves to dream", has pledged to raise $50,000 to help the cause. 

Mrs. Obama urged others to use social media to do the same.

"I’m testing out my social media skills on you guys.  Let’s all get on Twitter or Instagram.  I’m going to be doing the same -- somebody is going to be doing it, right now.  And I want you to tell people why it’s so important for girls to get an education.  Let’s just start there.  Let’s start gearing up.  Let’s just make this trend -- is that what happens?  (Laughter.)  We can start getting this thing trending.

Asked the first lady, "Are you on my team?"

See also the White House website on letgirlslearn.

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