During her June 2015 visit to London, first lady Michelle Obama announced that the United States and the United Kingdom are launching new partnerships worth nearly $200 million to support education for adolescent girls in developing countries, including those affected by conflict and crisis.
Speaking in London to promote the “Let Girls Learn” initiative, Obama said 62 million girls are not receiving an education because of family or social opposition, poverty, or the lack of a nearby school to attend. She said the loss is ultimately borne by everyone, not just the girls.
“One of these girls could have the potential to cure cancer, or start a business that transforms an industry, or become the next president or prime minister who inspires her country. But if she never sets foot in a classroom, chances are she will never discover or fulfill that potential,” she said.
In an op-ed published in June 2015, Obama also said educating girls leads to lower rates of infant mortality and HIV/AIDS, and higher immunization rates. She also cited studies that show each additional year a girl attends school can increase her earning power by 10 percent to 20 percent. Sending girls to secondary school will not only help their families but can “boost a country’s entire economy,” she said.
The U.S.-U.K. partnership includes a five-year program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that will benefit more than 750,000 girls. British and American partners such as American Peace Corps volunteers and the U.K. Campaign for Female Education will support teacher training, girls’ leadership camps and other community-based programs there and in other developing countries, she said.
More needs to be done because “every girl, no matter where she lives, deserves the opportunity to develop the promise inside of her,” Obama said.
Following her trip to the U.K., the first lady visited Italy to participate in the Milan Expo 2015.