It's no secret that former first lady Michelle Obama has continued to be an inspiration since leaving the White House. With International Women's Day upon us, Obama took the time to talk with four young ladies from four different cities across the world about the importance of education for women and failure is a key part of success.
Obama, along with the Obama Foundation, teamed with Refinery29 for the conversation which spotlighted the four young women. When asked by 17-year-old Alejandra Teleguario Santizo what advice she would give to girls looking to be trailblazers, Obama told the young lady, who is from Guatemala, "My best advice to girls, including my own daughters, is do not be afraid to fail. So often, our own fear of failure is the thing that keeps us back. "We think we have to be perfect, that if we make even the tiniest mistake, it's a catastrophe. That's simply not true!"
She had more advice to offer, too. When asked by 19-year-old Chicago activist Eva Lewis how education can be liberating, especially for girls, the former first lady said, "I always tell students that if you focus on school right now, you will have all kinds of freedom later on in your life. You'll have the freedom to choose a career you enjoy and to earn a living that supports your family. That is truly liberating. And that's not just true here in America."
Mrs. Obama, who started the Let Girls Learn initiative along with former President Barack Obama in 2015, wasn't done talking education for women. "Right now, millions of adolescent girls around the world actually don't have the chance to go to school," she said. "Imagine if, at the age of 10 or 11 or 12, someone came to you and said, 'Sorry, you're a girl, you're finished with your education. Forget about all your dreams. Instead you'll marry a man twice your age and start having babies.'"
She then went on to cite studies that show how education can help women avoid maternal and infant mortality, make them less likely to contract diseases such as HIV and malaria and put more women in the workforce — in turn helping to boost a country's economy.
"So education can liberate individuals, families, and even nations," she said.
Cover image via White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon.