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Let Girls Learn: Michelle Obama Promotes Education Across the Globe

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Michelle Obama is in the headlines again, this time for a trip to Japan and Cambodia with the aim of promoting female education across the world. This truly worthy cause is one the first lady takes very personally, and the initiative is supported by the administration as one that deserves the attention and resources of America’s government and people.

The effort, known as “Let Girls Learn,” is aimed at empowering millions of girls across the world to attend, and remain in, school. The program seeks cooperation from other nations, to eliminate disparate opportunities in education for girls across the world.

In the world today, there are approximately 130 million school aged children who are not attending an educational institution. About 70% of those children are female. While there are a variety of reasons for this, the primary factor in many countries comes down to the fact that less emphasis is placed on educating girls, and it is simply seen as not necessary. This cultural paradigm needs to shift if we are to see more girls educated.

The problem is worst in developing nations, where antiquated notions about women’s rights are most rampant. There are 11 such developing countries that the Peace Corps will focus on for its first year leading the charge in “Let Girls Learn.” They include Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo and Uganda.

Economic factors can play a role in girls falling behind in education. For this reason, the first lady’s trip will stress the importance of things like the donation of school uniforms and reading material; in this way  no girl need miss out on an education simply because a school lacks the resources to provide them with an opportunity they strongly desire.

Michelle Obama’s trips to Japan and Cambodia will highlight the two main faces of the program. First will be Japan, where she will be making meeting with leaders in the developed nation to discuss their ability to lend support and aid. This will serve as a template for other such nations where female education has a strong standing, to help out nations with fewer opportunities. The Cambodian leg of her journey will set an example within one of the nations in which the actual assistance will take place. By appealing to nations who possess the money and track record to help those who don’t, this truly international affair holds great promise to level the playing field for young women on a global level.

This is a very important story to share with our children and teens, as it highlights one of the things that we and our children may take for granted. Access to education is so universal, and even compulsory, in developed parts of the world that it can be all too easy to forget that elsewhere, children want nothing more than to be able to go to a good school, yet they can’t.

Some girls are simply not allowed to attend school. Others can’t afford to because of economics, or aren’t able to because of family or work obligations unfairly thrust on them at too young an age – young women across the world are being denied the sort of opportunities to advance themselves so freely given to those of us who are born into more fortunate circumstances. Lack of education is a primary factor in perpetuating cycles of poverty and similar impediments. Without a chance to learn, many are trapped in the same position for their entire lives. While we teach our children that they can be anything they want to be, it is education that makes that notion a reality.

For another fascinating family discussion about Michelle Obama in the news, we recommend “Michelle Obama’s Absent Headscarf Causes Controversy.” You may also be interested in a story about the first family, entitled “Republican Aide Bashes Obama’s Daughters.”