First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated International Day of the Girl with a global discussion about education equality. The event, which took place in Washington, D.C. and featured girls from all over the world, brought together Glamour’s nonprofit arm,The Girl Project, with Mrs. Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative.
But the conversation won’t stop there: On Wednesday night, CNN will premiere the documentary We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World, which follows the First Lady—joined by actresses Meryl Streep and Frida Pinto, and journalist Isha Sesay—on a trip to Liberia and Morocco, where they meet girls who have overcome incredible obstacles just for the chance to educate themselves.
The same girls who appear in We Will Risecame to Washington, D.C., for the International Day of the Girl festivities, which for them included a special screeningof the film at the White House, with Mrs. Obama and Meryl Streep in attendance. In a remark before the screening, Streep explained her inspiration for getting involved with the film. “Places that hold women back suffer,” she explained. “And the places that empower women thrive.”
Glamour Magazine had the chance earlier in the day to talk to some of the women featured in the film, and we were just as inspired and moved by their stories as everyone who sees this documentary will be.
Glamour got to meet Raphina Felee, 20, who lives in Liberia and participated in a Peace Corps program called Girls Leading Our World. When we asked her about how her typical school day looked, she explained that her day started long before classes. “Every morning I get up at 5 o’clock,” she told Glamour. “I sweep the house and clean, and prepare food for my household, get my little brothers ready for school, go to the market,” all before she can go to class. But when she does get there, she said her favorite subjects are biology and chemistry. “I want to be a medical doctor in the future,” she said. When asked about challenges facing girls and education in her country, she explained that because of the devastating Ebola outbreak in her country only a few years ago, many girls were left without anyone to support or even encourage them in their education. “Those girls feel like they have no one in society,” she said.
Another young Liberian girl, 16 year-old Janet Jackson (in the documentary, Isha Sesay mentions the superstar she shares her name with), told us she had a similar morning routine, full of hard work before even setting foot in a classroom. But she was also very proud that when the class was asked about the previous day’s reading, she’s often the first to speak. And while she’s a go-getter at school, her participation in International Day of the Girl is one of her favorite accomplishments. “I’m proud of myself that I get to meet the First Lady again, and step on this soil,” she said of visiting D.C.
Tina Brown, also from Liberia, told us her favorite subject is general science, and despite having to wake up early to get her brother and sister ready for school—and though her family often picks paying her brother’s tuition over her own—she told us she still always tries her best in class to get ahead. “I focus,” she said. “I’m working hard to graduate from senior high and go to university.”
CNN will premiere the documentary We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World, which follows the First Lady—joined by actresses Meryl Streep and Frida Pinto, and journalist Isha Sesay—on a trip to Liberia and Morocco, where they meet girls who have overcome incredible obstacles just for the chance to educate themselves.
Thank you First Lady @michelleobama for shining the light, and gaving Liberian young girls this amazing opportunity.