Michelle Obama is Wonder Woman. From launching her campaign Let’s Move in 2010 to address the issue of childhood obesity, to creating Joining Forces with Dr. Jill Biden, an effort to help servicemembers and veterans succeed, she has been a catalyst for change all throughout her husband’s presidency. And now she’s started Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative to help girls around the world attend and stay in school. According to the White House website, Let Girls Learn focuses on “reduc[ing] barriers that prevent adolescent girls from completing their education.” At the fourth annual Global Citizen Festival, Mrs. Obama stated, “Right now 62 million girls are not in school…they deserve the same chances to get an education as my daughters and your daughters and all of our children.” She also asked that the audience post pictures of themselves on social media with the hashtag #62MillionGirls, as well as a caption describing something they learned in school.
I want to be a teacher, and nothing pains me more than seeing gender inequality around the world when it comes to getting an education. Especially in low-income families, a boy’s education is usually much more important, and instead of having the opportunity to get a higher education, girls are often just called to stay at home, do chores, and work for their families, and then later on, their husbands, according to UNICEF. The problem, is that there is nothing more important to securing a successful future than a good education. Education is the road that paves the way to college, to a good job, to a better life. Education helps women make a name for themselves in the world: it helps them gain respect and importance in a still very patriarchal world.
Education not only opens up many doors to advance in one’s life, but also opens doors to find oneself. It can show a girl where her interests and passions are, who she wants to be, what she wants to accomplish. A valuable education gives girls opportunities to become fully aware of the world around them; it gives them a full comprehensive history of the world around us, and this allows them to imagine new societies and work towards changing this world for the better.
I think what The First Lady is pushing for is beyond admirable. This is the 21st century, and education inequality is still a much bigger problem than it should be today. According to UNESCO, girls represent 60% of illiterate children. As these girls grow up, they cannot learn because of more home and family responsibilities, and gender equality becomes harder and harder to achieve. This is especially prevalent in rural areas around the world, especially in poorer countries in Africa, South and West Asia, and the Middle East according to UNICEF. As men and women of from a developed country with high literacy rates, we need to stand up for girls who don’t have the same access to the education that we are so privileged to have. Education has changed this country for the better, and it’s time that other countries have that same experience. Through social media and her talks, the First Lady is using her power to spread awareness to this critical issue, and hopefully once more people find out about this, there will be a global push to give these girls access to education and let them flourish.