As a follow up to her #62MillionGirls social media campaign, the First Lady is encouraging people to take the Change.Org 62 Million Girls pledge to help support more girls in school. Obama announced the pledge in an essay featured in Wednesday morning's Lenny Letter just hours before she took the stage for her SXSW keynote event in Austin.
"So often when people talk about the issue of global girls' education, they dive right into the policy weeds," Obama began her essay. And while policy is important, the First Lady explained why experience is just as integral to the conversation.
"It's also very much about attitudes and beliefs," Obama wrote. "The belief that girls should be valued for their bodies, not their minds; the belief that girls simply aren't worthy of an education, and their best chance in life is to be married off when they're barely even teenagers and start having children of their own."
They are so smart and hardworking, and so hungry for an education. Michelle Obama on young girls around the world
Obama explained that the issue is personal to her because she's met many of these young girls while traveling as First Lady. "They are so smart and hardworking, and so hungry for an education," she wrote. "I've met girls who make long, dangerous journeys each day to school and then come home and study for hours each night. I've met girls studying at rickety desks in bare concrete classrooms who are raising their hands so hard they're almost falling out of their chairs."
Big stars like Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae, Missy Elliot and more have already signed the 62 Million Girls pledge. Obama commissioned the artists to create a song about women's empowerment titled "This Is For My Girls," produced by MAKERS, AOL's digital platform that highlights women's stories.
Listen to "This Is For My Girls" below.
The 62 Million Girls pledge already had 10,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning. "When a young girl can’t go to school she is more vulnerable to violence, poverty, and disease," the pledge homepage reads. "But it doesn’t just hurt girls: it affects their families, their communities -- even their countries. Investing in girls’ education is an essential way to invest in a better world."
Obama summed up her essay on a powerful note, writing: "Against the most heartbreaking odds, these girls never lose hope in themselves. The least we can do is give them a chance to go to school, fulfill that hope, and become who and what they are meant to be."
Read the rest of Obama's essay "Why Global Girls' Education Is So Personal for Me" here.
Head over to Change.Org to take the 62 Million Girls Pledge.