First lady Michelle Obama at the Apollo speaking with young girls about the importance of education. (Glamour magazine - Sept. 29 2015) (164922)
Credit: Glamour magazine

Amsterdam News Staff

First lady Michelle Obama made her way to Harlem Tuesday, Sept. 29 to talk with young girls about the importance of education and her latest campaign to educate millions of girls worldwide.

Glamour magazine hosted a special panel discussion about the power of educating adolescent girls Tuesday at the Apollo Theater, where Obama was joined by actress Charlize Theron, founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and a U.N. Messenger of Peace, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Nurfahada, Plan International’s girls advocate.

Actress Sophia Bush kicked off the event along with a performance by duo Nico & Vinz.

The theater was filled with more than 1,000 girls from various schools and organizations, including Democracy Prep, Girls Inc. and the Girl Scouts.

Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive served as moderator for the discussion, which was live streamed exclusively on AOL. The talk focused on global issues being addressed by the new government-wide “Let Girls Learn” initiative and Glamour’s the Girl Project.

The first lady spoke to the young ladies about the importance of getting a good education. She noted that millions of girls around the world are often denied education because of working in the home, religious reasons or even teen pregnancy.

“We want to end poverty, we want to improve the plight of our country. Educating girls is the key to all of that. When I look into the faces of the girls, I see so much promise,” Obama said.

Earlier this year, the White House announced a new initiative to expand its efforts to help adolescent girls worldwide get a quality education through Let Girls Learn. The initiative will elevate existing programs and public-private partnerships, seek out new ones and challenge organizations and governments to commit resources to lift up adolescent girls across the globe.

“We are trying to raise awareness about the plight of these 62 million girls,” Obama said. “We want to use this message to inspire our kids here at home to take advantage of their education.”

The first lady asked everyone in the audience to participate in the social media campaign and using the hashtag “#62milliongirls.”

“For me this is personal,” she said. “When I think about those 62 million girls who aren’t in school, I think about myself, I think about my daughters. These are our girls and I think about where I would be in my life if I didn’t work hard in school and have the opportunity to go to college then go on to law school. I wouldn’t be here.”

Along with talking about her campaign, Obama also gave words of wisdom to the young girls, taking from her own experience as a teen and as a mother of two teenagers.

“Let’s be clear,” she said to the girls. “You don’t want to be with a boy that’s too stupid to know [to] appreciate a smart young lady. 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 today.”

Let Girls Learn focuses on programs to reach adolescent girls in Afghanistan, mobilize new ideas and leverage resources to support innovative approaches to educating adolescent girls and increase the Peace Corps’ community-based efforts for girls education using the existing network of volunteers.