Tag: FLOTUS

Farewell FLOTUS: Watch Michelle Obama’s Final White House Speech (VIDEO)

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Michelle Obama (photo via npr.org)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

According to cnn.com, First Lady Michelle Obama gave her final White House remarks in an emotional speech today, thanking her supporters and saying, “being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I’ve made you proud.”

She included these powerful, encouraging thoughts in her last words to the public as FLOTUS:

I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong,” Obama said, her voice breaking several times near the end of her remarks. “So don’t be afraid. You hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of you boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear.

Watch her moving speech about education in its entirety below:

Michelle ‘Flow-tus’ Obama and SNL’s Jay Pharoah Rap About Going to College (VIDEO)

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Jay Pharaoh (via COLLEGE HUMOR)

Just call her “Flow-tus,” because Michelle Obama has flow and bars. The first lady teamed up with Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah in a new rap song that encourages teens to attend college.

In the video, produced by College Humor, Pharoah and Obama rap about the benefits of attending college, minus the student loans, of course.

“South Side Chicago, we all know, we had to do overtime every night to make it tomorrow,” Obama raps. “And everyone could really make their dream true. Hey, kid listenin’ in Michigan, that could be you!”

Check it out below:

article by Yesha Callahan via theroot.com

First Lady Michelle Obama Writes Powerful Editorial for The Atlantic: “Let Girls Learn”

First Lady Michelle Obama (photo via firstladies.org)
First Lady Michelle Obama (photo via firstladies.org)

First Lady Michelle Obama advocate for young women and girls across the globe with today’s frank and forthright editorial in The Atlantic magazine entitled “Let Girls Learn.”

That is also the title of her initiative with President Obama, which is aimed at doing just that. The program will not only fund leadership camps and address resource limitations, but it will also educate girls in conflict zones and address broader cultural beliefs that prevent girls from growing up to be successful, independent women.

Read her powerful essay below:

Right now, 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. They’re receiving no formal education at all—no reading, no writing, no math—none of the basic skills they need to provide for themselves and their families, and contribute fully to their countries.

Often, understandably, this issue is framed as a matter of resources—a failure to invest enough money in educating girls. We can solve this problem, the argument goes, if we provide more scholarships for girls so they can afford school fees, uniforms, and supplies; and if we provide safe transportation so their parents don’t have to worry that they’ll be sexually assaulted on their way to or from school; and if we build adequate school bathrooms for girls so they don’t have to stay home when they have their periods, and then fall behind and wind up dropping out.

And it’s true that investments like these are critical for addressing our global girls’ education crisis. That’s why, last spring, the president and I launched Let Girls Learn, a new initiative to fund community girls’ education projects like girls’ leadership camps and school bathrooms; educate girls in conflict zones; and address poverty, HIV, and other issues that keep girls out of school.

But while these investments are absolutely necessary to solve our girls’ education problem, they are simply not sufficient. Scholarships, bathrooms, and safe transportation will only go so far if societies still view menstruation as shameful and shun menstruating girls. Or if they fail to punish rapists and reject survivors of rape as “damaged goods.” Or if they provide few opportunities for women to join the workforce and support their families, so that it’s simply not financially viable for parents struggling with poverty to send their daughters to school.

In other words, we cannot address our girls’ education crisis until we address the broader cultural beliefs and practices that can help cause and perpetuate this crisis. And that is precisely the message I intend to deliver this week when I travel to the Middle East. I’ll be visiting girls at a school in Jordan—one of many schools in that country educating both Jordanian children and children whose families have fled the conflict in Syria—to highlight the power of investments in girls’ education. But I’ll also be speaking at a global education conference in Qatar where I’ll be urging countries around the world to both make new investments in girls’ education and challenge laws and practices that silence, demean, and brutalize women—from female genital mutilation and cutting, to forced child marriage, to laws that allow marital rape and disadvantage women in the workplace.

We know that legal and cultural change is possible because we’ve seen it in countries around the world, including our own. A century ago, women in America couldn’t even vote. Decades ago, it was perfectly legal for employers to refuse to hire women, and domestic violence was seen not as a crime, but as a private family matter. But in each generation, brave people—both men and women—stood up to change these practices. They did it through individual acts like taking their bosses to court, fighting to prosecute their rapists, and leaving their abusive husbands—and through national movements and legislation that brought changes like the 19th Amendment, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act.   

Cultural shifts like these can spur countries to make greater investments in girls’ education. And when they do, that can cause a powerful ripple effect that can lead to even greater cultural and political progress on behalf of women. Girls who are educated marry later, have lower rates of infant and maternal mortality, and are more likely to immunize their children and less likely to contract HIV. Educated girls also earn higher salaries—15 to 25 percent more for each additional year of secondary school—and studies have shown that sending more girls to school can boost an entire country’s GDP.

And when educated girls become healthy, financially secure, empowered women, they’re far better equipped to advocate for their needs and aspirations, and challenge unjust laws and harmful practices and beliefs. So really, this can be a virtuous cycle.

A walk to school in the southern Indian city of Kerala (Arko Datta / Reuters)

But ultimately, for me, this issue isn’t just about politics or economics—for me, this is a moral issue. As I’ve traveled the world, I have met so many of these girls. I’ve seen firsthand that every single one of them has the spark of something extraordinary inside of them, and they are so hungry to realize their promise. They walk for hours each day to school, learning at rickety desks in bare concrete classrooms. They study for hours each night, holding tight to their hopes for the future, even in the face of heartbreaking odds.

These girls are no different from my daughters or any of our daughters. And we should never have to accept our girls having their bodies mutilated or being married off to grown men as teenagers, confined to lives of dependence and abuse. We should never have to raise them in societies that silence their voices and snuff out their dreams. None of us here in the U.S. would accept this for our own daughters and granddaughters, so why would we accept it for any girl on our planet?

As a first lady, a mother, and a human being, I cannot walk away from these girls, and I plan to keep raising my voice on their behalf for the rest of my life. I plan to keep urging world leaders to invest in their potential and create societies that truly value them as human beings. I plan to keep reaching out to local leaders, families, and girls themselves to raise awareness about the power of sending girls to school. And I plan to keep talking about this issue here at home, because I believe that all of us—men and women, in every country on this planet—have a moral obligation to give all of these girls a future worthy of their promise and their dreams.  

Michelle Obama’s editorial via theatlantic.com

Obamas Launch “Let Girls Learn” Education Initiative

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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama put their weight behind Let Girls Learn on Tuesday, an initiative to help girls around the world attend secondary school and complete their education.

“Let Girls Learn” began as a United States Agency for International Development effort last summer, and featured a video with celebrities like Alicia Keys and Shonda Rhimes. The goal was “to provide the public with meaningful ways to help all girls to get a quality education,” building on past work on girls’ education and empowerment around the world. Now, the Obama administration will enhance existing programs and expand efforts across the government and through partnerships with the private sector.

“A good education can lift you from the most humble circumstances into a life you never could have imagined,” the first lady said Tuesday when she and the president announced the plan. “I see myself in these girls. I see our daughters in these girls,” she said. “I want to use my time and platform as first lady and beyond to make a real impact.”

According to a FLOTUS tweet, women and girls make up 70 percent of those living in extreme poverty around the world, a fact that education can help change. Approximately 62 million girls around the world are not in school, explains a fact sheet published Tuesday by the White House, with half that number representing adolescent girls.

“These girls have diminished economic opportunities and are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, early and forced marriage, and other forms of violence,” the fact sheet says. “Yet when a girl receives a quality education, 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.”

imagesThe first lady will work with the Peace Corps to develop community-based solutions and recruit and train volunteers. During the first year of the program, the Peace Corps will implement Let Girls Learn in 11 countries—Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda—and will expand to additional countries the following year.

The initiative will include programs focused on education, empowerment and leadership, health and nutrition, preventing gender-based violence, and preventing child, early and forced marriage.

Partnerships with the private sector include commitments from the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, CARE, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., PBS Learning Media and the U.N. Foundation’s Girl Up campaign.

To join the efforts please go to letgirlslearn.peacecorps.gov

article by Stav Ziv via newsweek.com

Michelle Obama Hosts White House Fashion Education Workshop

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, first lady Michelle Obama hosted the White House’s first fashion education workshop to honor and recognize budding fashion designers, stylists, writers, and entrepreneurs.

Inviting students from 14 East Coast high schools and colleges, the FLOTUS spoke to the students about the importance of fashion education and the impact of the fashion industry.

“When it comes to the fashion industry, so often people think it’s all about catwalks and red carpets and ‘who wore it best,’ and whether some famous person wore the right belt with the right shoes,” said Mrs. Obama.

“Fashion is really about passion and creativity, just like music or dance or poetry,” added the first lady. “For so many people across the country, it is a calling; it is a career.”

Breaking the students into groups for workshop sessions on fashion inspiration, construction, journalism, entrepreneurship, and more, Mrs. Obama also invited leading influencers in the industry to mentor and educate the students on the ins and outs of the business. Some of the fashion notables included Tracy Reese, Jason Wu, Diane Von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour, and many more.

Wintour, who introduced the first lady at Wednesday’s event, credited her with changing the perception of fashion in the District of Columbia, while emphasizing the impact style has on society.

“Fashion can be a powerful instrument for social change… It allows us to think about who we are as individuals and as a society.”

To prove her support for student designers, Mrs. Obama donned a sleeveless navy dress at the event designed by New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology student Natalya Koval.

SOURCE: Washington Post

article by Courtney Connley via blackenterprise.com

First Lady Michelle Obama Initiates #ReachHigher Social Media Campaign

Michelle Obama Lets Move Project LargeFirst Lady Michelle Obama wants every American student to expand their education beyond just a high school degree and she’s using social media to encourage kids to do just that.

In an effort to move the country in the right direction toward reaching President Obama’s “North Star” goal, which outlines America as having the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020, FLOTUS is asking people to show support for her Reach Higher initiative by taking a picture of themselves in their college T-shirt and posting it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter using the hashtag #ReachHigher. The new initiative encourages students to attend a professional training program, community college, or four-year university after high school and she’s hoping that through social media she can make the program a trending topic.

Already, a couple of major cities around the country are showing their support for the initiative and celebrating students commitment to higher education. On May 2nd, FLOTUS traveled to San Antonio to attend the city’s annual “College Signing Day.” At the event, First Lady Obama elaborated on the importance of high school students continuing their education saying, “While it’s good news that high school graduation rates have climbed to their highest levels ever in this country, we know that in today’s world, a high school degree simply isn’t enough.”

Watch the video below of FLOTUS talking about the new #ReachHigher social media campaign and be sure to show your support for the initiative.

article by Courtney Connley via blackenterprise.com