Of the many causes taken up by the Obamas during their time in the White House, one that First Lady Michelle Obama has championed is education, not just for all children, but specifically for girls, hoping to create a sexism-free education.
In her speech given Wednesday, March 23 in Argentina, The Huffington Post says that the First Lady had her own experiences with sexism in school, something that may have fueled her passion for the cause.
Obama said that she had teachers who “‘would call on the boys instead of the girls, even though the girls had better grades,’ and would ask her brother about his career ambitions while asking her what kind of man she wanted to marry,” according to The Huffington Post.
Although she experienced subtle sexism in school growing up, it certainly did not end there, Obama said.
“As I got older, I found that men would whistle at me as I walked down the street, as if my body were their property, as if I were an object to be commented on instead of a full human being with thoughts and feelings of my own … I began to realize that the hopes I had for myself were in conflict with the messages I was receiving from people around me.”
Pointing out that such comments made her question herself, Obama explained that after years of doubting herself and her abilities, she finally learned to stop caring about others’ opinions.
“I decided not to listen to the voices of those who doubted or dismissed me. Instead, I decided to listen to my own voice,” she said.
Acting on her experiences, Obama launched the “Let Girls Learn” initiative in March 2015, a partnership with the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe that aims to “‘to educate girls across the globe.'”