Michelle Obama Gives Speech Promoting Let Girls Learn in Argentina
"Messages that said that, as a girl, my voice was somehow less important."
Google Argentina shared a video from the Obama visit to Argentina, where Michelle Obama and Argentinian First Lady Juliana Awada spoke about the importance of education to young girls. Obama spoke about her “modest upbringing” and the challenges she faced, from teachers who would ignore her to people who thought women shouldn’t have ambition. She spoke about facing objectification and judgement as she studied to attend Harvard and make real change, something she’s discussed openly in the past.
As I got older, I found that men would whistle or make comments about how I looked as I walked down the street, as if my body were their property, as if I were an object to be commented on instead of a full human being with thoughts and feelings of my own. I began to realize that the hopes I had for myself were in conflict with the messages I was receiving from people around me. Messages that said that, as a girl, my voice was somehow less important. That how my body looked was more important than how my mind worked. That being strong and powerful and outspoken just wasn’t appropriate or attractive for a girl.
I started to question myself: Was I too loud? Too much? Was I too bossy? Was I dreaming too big? And for years, I would lie awake at night and those doubts would eat away at my heart. But eventually, I just got tired of always worrying about what everyone else thought of me. So I decided not to listen to the voices of those who doubted or dismissed me. Instead, I decided to listen to my own voice and to rely on the support of the people in my life who believed in my ability to achieve my own dreams.
Speaking to the young women, Obama emphasized the need for education, something she’s consistently promoted through Let Girls Learn and #62MillionGirls, a campaign whose name refers to the amount of girls not in school. She spoke about the need for girls to become leaders and to empower other girls both in their countries and worldwide.
I thought her speech did well balancing between talking about her personal experience and the state of girls’ education in the United States, Argentina, and the world. She touched on topics like the NiUnaMenos demonstration, the wage gap, domestic abuse, hygiene and more, making for a rousing speech.
Obama also brought up “This Is For My Girls,” a song featuring featuring Missy Elliott, Janelle Monaé, Kelly Clarkson, Kelly Rowland, Lea Michele, and Zendaya that you can listen to here. All proceeds go to Let Girls Learn Fund. Both the speech and the song are very worthwhile listens.
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