New Delhi, Nov 3: With a whopping 62 million girls out of school worldwide, US First Lady Michelle Obama has said to address the global crisis in girl's education requires not just investment, but also challenging cultural beliefs and practices.
Michelle wrote in an op-ed in Atlantic Council yesterday that she launched "Let Girls Learn", a new initiative to fund community girls' education projects like girls' leadership camps and school bathrooms, besides educating girls in conflict zones and addressing poverty, HIV, and other issues that keep girls out of school.
"We cannot address our girls' education crisis until we address the broader cultural beliefs and practices that can help cause and perpetuate this crisis," Michelle wrote as she landed in Qatar as part of her trip to the Middle East which includes Jordan where she intends to promote girl's education.
While the op-ed has no reference to India, the op-ed carries picture if two girls walking to school in the Kerala. "We know that legal and cultural change is possible because we've seen it in countries around the world, including our own," she said.
"A century ago, women in America couldn't even vote. Decades ago, it was perfectly legal for employers to refuse to hire women, and domestic violence was seen not as a crime, but as a private family matter. But in each generation, brave peopleboth men and womenstood up to change these practices," she said.
Michelle said the women fought it through individual acts like taking their bosses to court, fighting to prosecute their rapists, leaving their abusive husbands and through national movements and legislation that brought changes like the 19th Amendment, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act.
"Cultural shifts like these can spur countries to make greater investments in girls' education. And when they do, that can cause a powerful ripple effect that can lead to even greater cultural and political progress on behalf of women'" she wrote.
"Girls who are educated marry later, have lower rates of infant and maternal mortality, and are more likely to immunise their children and less likely to contract HIV," she added.
As a first lady, a mother, and a human being, she wrote, she cannot walk away from these girls. "I plan to keep raising my voice on their behalf for the rest of my life.
I plan to keep urging world leaders to invest in their potential and create societies that truly value them as human beings," Michelle said.
"I plan to keep reaching out to local leaders, families, and girls themselves to raise awareness about the power of sending girls to school. And I plan to keep talking about this issue here at home, because I believe that all of usmen and women have a moral obligation to give all of these girls a future worthy of their promise and their dreams," she wrote.