In her time in office, Michelle Obama drew nationwide attention to the health and wellness of America's children with her campaigns to improve school lunches and get kids and their families moving each day. Now, she is setting her sights on the health of children around the world – particularly young girls whose lack of access to education harms their health and economic prospects and makes them vulnerable to illness, poverty and violence. With her new campaign, the First Lady is hoping to raise awareness about the 62 million girls who are not in school as well as those who are fighting to stay there.
"I see myself in these girls. I see my daughters in these girls. These girls are our girls, and I simply can't walk away from them. So for me, this is truly a moral issue," she said in a videotaped message played during the Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park.
It's also a world health and economic issue.
In the developing world, girls without an education are six times more likely to marry before the age of 15 and 60 percent more likely to become pregnant before the age of 17, according to USAID stats. These situations limit young girls' lives in numerous ways.
A girl with children of her own and no education cannot support herself. And medical complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death of girls in these nations.
Let. Girls. Learn.
When girls stay in school, they are healthier, their families are healthier, and they have more opportunities for employment. This builds stronger communities and more prosperous countries.
So how can you get involved?
The First Lady is asking social media users to spread the message by posting photos on Instagram and Twitter, along with a message of what they learned in school and the hashtag #62milliongirls. Her contribution was a black-and-white selfie inside the White House. Mindy Kaling tweeted a picture of herself as a child, and so did Kerry Washington.
I made my own contribution to the hashtag:
So, let's see it. Break out those throwback pics and show some support for the #62MillionGirls who would love a chance at an education.