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Michelle Obama shared some shocking statistics about girls and education in an op-ed for the Atlantic. In it, she reveals that a whopping 62 million girls worldwide are not in school.

She writes:

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.

The First Lady revealed that these numbers are not only due to a lack of resources, but also a lack of safety and empowerment. She reveals that people often mistakenly believe that if we simply provide safe transportation so that girls won’t have to fear being raped or kidnapped on their way to school, or adequate facilities so they won’t have to go home when they get their periods, that the problem will be solved.

But Obama says the problem actually goes much deeper than that. She writes:

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.

Our FLOTUS said her initiative with President Obama Let Girls Learn 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.

…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?

When you think about those numbers and how lucky we are to live in a place where value is placed on education of women, it’s hard not to be inspired. Michelle, as always, just pushed me to really be better in what I do.

Read the First Lady’s full op-ed here.


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