This blog post was written by Girls Write Now mentee Shirleyka Hector about the #62MillionGirls Let Girls Learn event with First Lady, Michelle Obama. Shirleyka has been a mentee for the past three years and is also part of Girls Write Now’s Poets Collective.
Compete with the boys. Beat the boys – Michelle Obama
When I heard about the Global Conversation on the Power of Educating Adolescent Girls event at the Apollo Theater, I was so excited to go because it was going to be a global conversation focusing on educating girls. Everything and anything that has to do with empowering girls and women, count me in.
At school and at Girls Write Now, we have had numerous discussions on girls’ education in different parts of the world — that was when I was first introduced to Malala’s story. I learned that Malala was actually shot by the Taliban for taking a stand for a girl’s right to education. During the event, the emcee, Sophia Bush, actually talked about Malala and told everyone to go see the movie “He Named Me Malala”, which I saw on Sunday and it left me awestruck; it is a must-see!
At the Apollo Theater, the Global Conversation was more inspiring than I imagined. Nico and Vinz performed “Am I Wrong?” which was a total surprise! The uplifting lyrics and powerful message that “Am I Wrong” carried with it had everyone on their feet. The event was so much more international than I realized. When young girls from other countries were asking questions about girls’ education, I was mesmerized. Here are the things I enjoyed the most:
The panel was beyond amazing! Michelle Obama, Charlize Theron, Nurfahada, and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard were confident, fierce, and such eloquent speakers. My favorite quotes were:
- “There is nothing sexier than a smart woman.” – Charlize Theron
- “Something as vital as education should not be left up to the lottery of geography or gender.” – Charlize Theron
- “Compete with the boys. Beat the boys.” – Michelle Obama
- “There is no boy, at this age, that is cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting your education. If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the president of the United States.” – Michelle Obama
- “I know education has made my life, so I’m passionate about ensuring that every girl around the world has the same opportunities.” – Julia Gillard
I could not forget about Nurfahada, a sixteen year old girl from the Philippines who advocates for girls’ right to education. Nurfahada reminded me so much of Malala. She talked about all the hurdles that prevent girls from getting an education in her country. She talked about how girls are often attacked physically for choosing to go school, which was heart-wrenching. Nurfahada is such a courageous person.
The Energy & The Advice
The energy at the theater was uplifting. The advice that those wonderful women gave us was fierce and moving; they made me feel like I had to do something to help girls. (I’m still thinking about ways to help make a difference.) I feel very fortunate to be living in the United States because I have access to a lot of resources, of which #62milliongirls are deprived.
The event changed my perspective on education, inspiring me to spark up the conversation about girls’ education around the world.