Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your own success will come from your confidence and fortitude.
This quote is attributed to the first lady of the United States, Mrs Michelle Obama, who is on a two-day visit to the UK to promote her charity/NGO, Let The Girls Learn.
Michelle Obama grew up in a working class neighbourhood just like these girls and so is able to empathise with the students of this Tower Hamlets secondary school. She woke up at 4am when the house was quiet in order for her to do her homework because of the noise of the extended family during the day. Her family believed in her; believed that hard work begets success.
She says she dreamed of going to the best universities in the country but was told she was setting her sights too high because she wanted to go to a good university; at a point, she says ‘I began to believe these people’. No one she knew in her neigbourhood had gone to university and having very few role models did not augur well for her but that did not hold her back. In addition to these disadvantages, being a woman, being black and being raised in a working class neighborhood was surely more than a ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ situation but she did succeed against these overwhelming odds.
Children born to educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past the age of 5
In Haiti, a young girl who couldn’t afford to go to school showed up anyway, showed up everyday until they let her stay
I’m lucky to have a mother who had a father who was a teacher and also educated all his daughters at a time when the vast majority of women weren’t expected to go beyond a primary school education – that is if they were lucky to get one at all. Today that decision has no doubt transformed the lives of thousands of their students worldwide and of course their children, amongst whom is a Justice of the Supreme Court, a university vice-chancellor, a published author, a medical doctor (female), two engineers (one of whom is female) and of course my mother herself, who taught Linguistics at university.
Medical complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls in developing countries
Almost 60% FEWER GIRLS would become pregnant under 17 years in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia if they all had a secondary education
In the developing world, 1 IN 7 GIRLS is married before her 15th birthday
I have an 8-year old daughter whose education I take very seriously indeed; thankfully, she was born and is being bred in a country where it isn’t strange anymore to educate a woman.
In a very simplistic way, educating a woman makes a lot of sense as the vast majority spend more time with their children than their husbands; the advantages of educating women are therefore priceless.
‘A good education is the ultimate key for our success’ she says. We men, need to support the women in our lives to be the best they can be. We men, for women’s education should be our mantra.
Girls with secondary schooling are up to SIX TIMES LESS LIKELY to marry as children compared to girls who have little or no education
One more year of education increases a woman’s income by more than 25%
This is surely a day that these girls will never, ever forget. Michelle’s visit will no doubt motivate them even further to achieve the best that life has in store for them.
Who knows, there could be a future president amongst these girls, a little bit more glamorous than a first lady methinks 🙂
Kudos to you Mrs Obama!
Thanks for reading folks.