First lady Michelle Obama, who has two teenage daughters, dispensed some advice to girls on Tuesday:
“Compete with the boys. Beat the boys,” she told an audience of 1,000 at an event in New York City hosted by Glamour called “The Power of An Educated Girl.”
The Associated Press reported that the first lady talked about her campaign called “Let Girls Learn,” which is a government-wide effort aimed at supporting community-led solutions to reduce barriers that prevent adolescent girls around the world from completing their education. The story quoted her as saying:
“I know being a teenager is hard,” but it’s temporary and not a template for the rest of life: “Half these people, you’re not going to know when you’re 60.”
And on whether being brainy comes at a social cost: “There is no boy, at this age, that is cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting your education,” the water pump operator’s daughter-turned-Harvard-trained lawyer said. “If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the president of the United States.”
Last Saturday, she attended the Global Citizen Festival in New York City and talked about the millions of girls around the world who are not in school, saying, “they deserve the same chances to get an education as my daughters and your daughters.” She encouraged everyone in the crowd to tweet about how education helped them with the hashtag #62million.
Obama has traveled to several countries to promote “Let Girls Learn,” which involves numerous agencies and departments of the federal government.
For example, since 2013, the U.S. Department of State and USAID have committed more than $22 million to the Safe from the Start initiative to strengthen prevention and response to gender-based violence at the onset of humanitarian emergencies. In Ethiopia, where one in seven girls is married by the time she turns 15, USAID is facilitating “community conversations” with girls, their families, and their community members to discuss the impact of early and forced marriage and to explain the importance of providing resources for the mental and physical health of girls. According to the Web site:
“Families are offered school supplies to help overcome the economic barriers to sending girls to school. And families who keep girls unmarried during the two-year program are awarded a sheep or a goat. An early evaluation of the project found that girls aged 10–14 in the experimental site were 90% less likely to be married at the end of the two-year program.”
Of the 62 million girls around the world who are not in school, half are adolescent, and their lack of education makes them more vulnerable to forced marriage, violence, HIV/AIDS, and reduced economic opportunities, according to the Let Girls Learn Web site. When a girl receives a quality education, it says:
She is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family, and her community. In addition, girls’ attendance in secondary school is correlated with later marriage, later childbearing, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, lower birth rates, and lower rates of HIV/AIDS. A World Bank study found that every year of secondary school education is correlated with an 18 percent increase in a girl’s future earning power.
Copyright Washington Post
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