OPINION BY CLAIRE HUEG
Let me preface this article with one statement: I’m a feminist. Yes, I shave my armpits. No, I don’t light my bras on fire. (Note to the women who do: bras are expensive. If you don’t like them, just don’t buy them in the first place.)
When I say I’m a feminist, I mean that I think women deserve equal pay for equal work. I believe that we deserve leadership roles beyond one token woman in the conference room. I don’t think the fact that women CEOs are less common than CEOs named John is a coincidence. I definitely can’t justify why we are treated as a minority when we comprise half of the population.
I also realize that my complaining about these things does nothing. The only way for these problems to change is for girls around the world to be as educated as their male peers. Currently, 62 million girls don’t have access to education, making it nearly impossible for women to be represented equally in competitive jobs where education matters.
Enter Michelle Obama and her new hashtag #62milliongirls. The video she used to introduce it calls for Instagram and Twitter users to post the hashtag along with what education has provided for them.
I don’t think she’s overstepping here. She has two daughters, and she is a woman who has benefited from scholastic opportunities. Since she is in a public position, it is only fair and natural for her to use that publicity to speak out on issues she is passionate about.
Her prior initiatives, including exercise and healthy eating, have targeted American kids specifically. It’s exciting to see her new movement have a global reach. With her husband leaving office shortly, she can’t act as “America’s mom” anymore. This campaign is proof that she has always been genuinely pushing for a better community and not acting for political benefits or as part of her husband’s power trips. Her new campaign for girls’ education is the perfect way for her to branch out of her job as FLOTUS and into a new role as a global feminist advocate.
With Michelle Obama’s representation, this movement will go exactly where I believe it needs to go. She has the unique ability to reach and connect with every woman in our country, gaining the support 62 million girls need.
I hope she will give more support than just a hashtag. It would be unfair for her to claim she is a supporter while denying uneducated girls any access to her financial resources or political clout.
I think awareness should be the first step. If you really see an issue, financially support the resolution of it. Put your money where your hashtag is. #62milliongirls alone will not create change, but it is a catalyst for the real changes we need. It doesn’t stop at awareness. We need to grow this movement into financial and political support for new legislation around the world and even for underprivledged women boarding schools.
The beautiful thing about this hashtag is you don’t have to be rich and powerful to provide support. Broke college students can post using it. Financially burdened parents (the ones who can’t afford their children’s education) can speak out for their needs without burdening themselves further. It is an equalizer in support.
People are excited about this cause. Beyoncé is tweeting about it, for crying out loud. It’s a topic that needs attention. I’m so glad that someone as poised and caring as Michelle Obama is becoming the face of it.