Michelle Obama launches Global Girls Alliance


Kelsey Tice Nicholson

On Oct. 11, Michelle Obama and The Obama Foundation announced the launch of the Global Girls Alliance. The organization “seeks to empower adolescent girls around the world through education, allowing them to achieve their full potential and transform their families, communities and countries,” according to the GGA website.

The announcement for the GGA launched on the International Day of the Girl, helping to cement Obama’s goal of proving that women can be strong, even in today’s contemporary environment  filled to the brim with sexual assault allegations and violence against women. The GGA seeks to overcome oppression of women by helping them get a quality education. Obama wrote for CNN, stating that women are taught to believe “that because they’re girls, they’re simply unworthy of an education. It’s the same toxic mindset that keeps girls here in the United States from believing they can become computer scientists or CEOs.” The Alliance plans to use education as a gateway to changing this mindset. Obama continued, “With the Global Girls Alliance, we’ll lift up the grassroots leaders in communities all over the world who are clearing away the hurdles that too many girls face.”

The GGA is similar to one of Obama’s programs, Let Girls Lead, from when she was First Lady. However, the GGA offers up affiliations that Let Girls Lead did not. According to Dr. Emily Bent, Assistant Professor in the University’s Women’s and Gender Studies Department, the GGA has “the intention to connect grassroots leaders, organizers and organizations directly to funders interested in girls’ education.” She claimed, “This linkage has the possibility of strengthening best practices in the field rather than increasing competition for funding between nonprofit organizations with similar missions and visions for girls globally.”

However, Dr. Bent offered some criticism on the new program. “I keep hoping to see some attention paid to girls’ education in the United States as well as girls in the so-called developing world. Girls in the U.S. face similar constraints to receiving an education when living in poverty and under radicalized oppression; their schools are underfunded and over-crowded with the school to prison pipeline affecting girls at increasingly alarming rates.” Bent continued, “While I applaud Michelle Obama for taking on this important issue, I also want us to think about what it means when we claim that girls’ education is not also an issue in the United States.”

“When you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country”, the former First Lady told NBC’s Today Show, “If we care about climate change, if we care about poverty, if we care about maternal child health, then we have to care about education.”

As of today, 98 million adolescent girls are not enrolled in school. The Obama Foundation has partnered with celebrities such as Meryl Streep, Amy Poehler, Julia Roberts, and Jessica Alba, among other celebrities, to spread the word about the alliance. The GGA also partnered with GoFundMe to provide a platform for grassroots organizations called the Global Girls Alliance Fund, and to inspire people around the world to contribute to the cause. As of Oct. 18, the GoFundMe has raised $122,754, nearly half of its $250,000 goal.

You can join the fight for women’s education by signing up for email alerts for the Global Girls Alliance on their website. Anyone interested can also read facts and quiz themselves on the site under the “Learn” tab, as well as access resources for spreading the word and teaming up with other organizations in the “Take Action” tab.