After being the first African American first lady in the United States, Michelle Obama remained one of the most popular women leaders in the world, admired for her honest and motivational oratory. After his powerful speech “When others fly low, we fly high“At the national convention of the 2016 Democratic Party, famous all over the world, appeals for candidacy as president came from everywhere.
While no longer in the White House, she continued to use her power to implement change through the nonprofit Obama Foundation which she founded with her husband Barack in 2014. Together, they also signed an agreement with Netflix for the making – through the their production company, Higher Ground Productions – of documentaries and drama series on issues they care about. Between these American Factory – Oscar winner for best documentary – investigating worker rights in a Chinese company in Ohio.
Above all, Obama has decided to devote his life to supporting women – and teenagers in particular – around the world. In October 2018, he launched the Girls Opportunity Alliance, which works internationally on empowering adolescents through education. It is a matter that the former first lady – who told her journey from Chicago’s South Side to the White House in the best-selling biography “Becoming – My story“ – described how very personal. “Neither my parents nor almost anyone else in the neighborhood where I grew up went to university,” he explained in an intervention for CNN in 2016. “For me, education meant power.”
The programs supported by the Girls Opportunity Alliance will be featured in Creators for Change, a new series of YouTube Originals that will broadcast discussions on the most complex global problems. In honor of Women’s Month, the inaugural episode will see Obama discuss the state of women’s education around the world with YouTube creators Liza Koshy, Prajakta Koli and Thembe Mahlaba.
The Girls Opportunity Alliance is aimed at empowering teenagers through education. Why did you choose to focus on education as a means of empowerment?
“I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and my access to good education was not at all obvious. But I had a strong supporter, my mother, Marian Robinson. She came forward to help whenever she could – organizing fundraisers for new school equipment, throwing dinners to thank my overworked teachers and putting pressure on my name when he felt the standards were falling. Not only did my mother make sure I was studying my multiplication tables and planetary systems, but with her actions I it instilled a sense of my own worth: that my voice, my talents and my ambition mattered. My life would be very different today if I didn’t have that support. “
“I want every girl on this planet to have the same opportunities that I have had. But at the moment, there are more than 98 million unschooled teenagers around the world. It is an injustice that affects us all. We know that teenagers who go to school have a healthier, happier life and when it does, the whole world benefits from it. That’s why the Obama Foundation gave birth to the Girls Opportunity Alliance – we work to help civil society organizations and leaders of the world who are already doing important work, how to remove obstacles to women’s education in their communities. Every single girl deserves the opportunity to follow her passions and realize her infinite potential. “
Who are the women who have had the greatest impact on your training path?
“I have already talked about my mother Marian Robinson, who has a kind of serene perseverance and strength that I still try to emulate. My great aunt Robbie also had a great influence on me. She taught me to play the piano when I was a child, in Chicago, and she gave me some of the first lessons on self-discipline and good old dialectics. We often clashed – I kept going on the study text, eager to learn more complicated songs – but she just didn’t drink it. value of patience and diligence, concepts that when I was 5 I still did not understand.
“In one of my first concerts, once I sat down to play my song I realized that I didn’t know where to get my hands – our piano at home had some chipped keys that I used as a guide. Just as I started to panic, Robbie got up gracefully from her chair in the audience and joined me. She gently placed my finger on the middle C. And then I played my piece. “
“I often think back to that moment because I hope we can offer all the girls the same – an opportunity to learn and try new things, a guide to support them when they hesitate and the freedom to express themselves through whatever medium they choose.”
An event of the Girls Opportunity Alliance of the Obama Foundation in Long An Province, Vietnam in December 2019.
© The Obama Foundation
He spoke publicly of the ‘impostor syndrome’ and its negative impact on girls and women. How did you manage it and do you have any advice to overcome it?
“The impostor syndrome (the psychological condition particularly widespread among women who are often unable to internalize their successes and therefore afraid of being identified as” impostors ” ed) is so difficult to overcome. For a long time, women and girls have been told that the rooms where big decisions are made are not their place. So when we manage to get in, we are still doubting ourselves, we are not sure we really deserve to sit at that table. We doubt our judgment, our abilities and our own reasons for being where we are. Even if we are the best prepared, this psychological condition can lead us to keep a low profile and not expose ourselves to our full potential.
“It has happened to me many times. The thing that has helped me most was to remember that we are our most severe critics. Women and girls already have so many problems: the point is that you would not be in that room if that is not was your place. Even if negative thoughts are bound to pop up as you take on new roles and challenges, you can admit them without letting them block you from taking up your space and doing your job. It’s really the only way to grow – overcome our fears and develop confidence that our voice and ideas have value. “
What are the steps we can all take to ensure that more women and girls are in positions of power?
“First, it’s up to all of us to make sure every girl has access to quality education. We have to give them all the opportunity to discover their own voice. So often we tell women that they should speak openly, fight for better conditions. , and face injustice firsthand. But if we don’t give our girls the space to express themselves, how can women become who know when it’s worth raising their voices? You need the practice to gain confidence and make people feel own voice in the world. “
“And we have to involve our men and boys in this effort too. It could change so much in a generation if we taught younger people to listen to girls, to see them as their equals. Because the truth is that women are as qualified as men. men to command. And if we give our girls the opportunity to become the women they were born to be, we can really create a chain reaction that transforms the world. “
What is the message you would like to share with the readers of Vogue?
“The facts are clear: when girls are educated, fantastic things happen. Girls who go to school have healthier children, higher wages and lower poverty rates. They can even help grow the economy. When girls learn to think for themselves, they also support others and find solutions to some of the most pressing problems. The future of our world can be better thanks to our girls. Investing in their education is one of the best things we can do for each of us. “
Creators for Change on Girls ’Education YouTube Originals, with Michelle Obama, Liza Koshy, Prajakta Koli and Thembe Mahlaba will be launched on March 17 at 9am (US East Coast time zone) on YouTube.com/Learning
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