Obamas Launch 'Let Girls Learn' Education Initiative

3-4-15 Obamas Let Girls Learn
First lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama announce the "Let Girls Learn" initiative at the White House. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama Tuesday put their weight behind Let Girls Learn, an initiative to help girls around the world attend secondary school and complete their education.

"Let Girls Learn" began as a United States Agency for International Development effort last summer, and featured a video with celebrities like Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel and Shonda Rhimes. The goal was "to provide the public with meaningful ways to help all girls to get a quality education," building on past work on girls' education and empowerment around the world. Now, the Obama administration will enhance existing programs and expand efforts across the government and through partnerships with the private sector.

"A good education can lift you from the most humble circumstances into a life you never could have imagined," the first lady said Tuesday when she and the president announced the plan. "I see myself in these girls. I see our daughters in these girls," she said. "I want to use my time and platform as first lady and beyond to make a real impact."

According to a FLOTUS tweet, women and girls make up 70 percent of those living in extreme poverty around the world, a fact that education can help change. Approximately 62 million girls around the world are not in school, explains a fact sheet published Tuesday by the White House, with half that number representing adolescent girls.

"These girls have diminished economic opportunities and are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, early and forced marriage, and other forms of violence," the fact sheet says. "Yet when a girl receives a quality education, she is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family and her community. In addition, girls' attendance in secondary school is correlated with later marriage, later childbearing, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, lower birth rates, and lower rates of HIV/AIDS."

The first lady will work with the Peace Corps to develop community-based solutions and recruit and train volunteers. During the first year of the program, the Peace Corps will implement Let Girls Learn in 11 countries—Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda—and will expand to additional countries the following year.

The initiative will include programs focused on education, empowerment and leadership, health and nutrition, preventing gender-based violence, and preventing child, early and forced marriage.

Partnerships with the private sector include commitments from the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, CARE, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., PBS Learning Media and the U.N. Foundation's Girl Up campaign.

The White House, the Obamas and partners took to Twitter Wednesday to begin spreading the word about Let Girls Learn, and others have begun joining in:

"Wherever they live, whoever they are, every girl on this planet has value." —President Obama #LetGirlsLearn pic.twitter.com/9rqaFRsvf6

— White House Archived (@ObamaWhiteHouse) March 3, 2015

"We owe these girls and girls like them around the world an education worthy of their dreams" —FLOTUS: http://t.co/IldEFrMx9w #LetGirlsLearn

— First Lady- Archived (@FLOTUS44) March 3, 2015

Let's break down barriers to girls' education around the world so they can build a brighter future. #LetGirlsLearn pic.twitter.com/DfuOxoO09b

— White House Archived (@ObamaWhiteHouse) March 4, 2015

"As part of #LetGirlsLearn, we’re going to be launching a new, community-focused girls’ education initiative" —FLOTUS pic.twitter.com/ND2SS8cT6m

— First Lady- Archived (@FLOTUS44) March 3, 2015

"Every girl deserves an education." —President Obama #LetGirlsLearn pic.twitter.com/9L7MTiYog6

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 3, 2015

Join us in promoting girls’ education. Share your photos/videos of girls’ empowerment and we’ll RT. #LetGirlsLearn pic.twitter.com/WO4AXeUVL3

— Peace Corps (@PeaceCorps) March 4, 2015

The @WhiteHouse, @GirlUp and the @PeaceCorps have joined to #LetGirlsLearn http://t.co/UPdGVH3Bbu

— UN Women (@UN_Women) March 4, 2015

I'm with you, @MichelleObama! All girls around the world deserve the right to learn, dream & lead! #LetGirlsLearn pic.twitter.com/Mj3QXaaoPv

— Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) March 4, 2015

#LetGirlsLearn must use all tools to address real issue of girls ed. Partnerships w. NGOs, civ soc & private orgs key to reach girls in need

— Samantha Power (@AmbPower44) March 3, 2015

FACT: 62 million girls around the world aren't in school. Help @FLOTUS open the doors of education: http://t.co/YAr2sfoMnT #LetGirlsLearn

— Rashida Jones (@iamrashidajones) March 3, 2015