Lena Dunham and gal pal Jenni Konner founded Lenny Letters with the intention of promoting feminism and female issues.
They’ve succeeded, with their global email newsletter including contributions from Jennifer Lawrence to Sarah Silverman. They’ve covered masses of issues, from gender inequality to education to sexuality.
Michelle Obama has just become their latest contributor, sharing her thoughts on global education for girls.
Michelle opens her letter:
‘So often when people talk about the issue of global girls’ education, they dive right into the policy weeds.
They talk about the numbers — how 62 million girls worldwide aren’t in school right now. They talk about the barriers girls face to getting an education — how their families can’t afford the school fees; or the nearest school is miles away, and walking there each day means risking assault and kidnapping; or there is a school nearby, but it doesn’t have adequate bathrooms for girls, so they have to stay home when they have their periods, and they sometimes fall behind and wind up dropping out’
The letter lays down poignant truths about life for many children.
‘Just imagine for a moment what it’s like to be in their shoes. Imagine being a bright, curious young girl with all kinds of ideas about what you want to be when you grow up. And then one day, someone taps you on the shoulder and says, “Sorry, not you. You’re a girl. Your dreams stop here. You have to drop out of school, marry a man 20 years older than you whom you’ve never met, and start having babies of your own.”’
Michelle continues to explain that her initiative, Let Girls Learn, is launching an action plan to alleviate the number of girls in need of education.
In the letter, Michelle pleads for readers to take action before sharing an anecdote about a girl she met in Cambodia.
‘She wakes up at four every morning to cook for her family, water their crops, and tend to their cows. Then she gets on her bicycle and pedals for an hour to get to school, where she studies as hard as she can to fulfill her dream of becoming a math teacher.
She told me, “I have been through a lot of hardships. I know that I need to overcome them. I’ve never thought that they are the barrier to stop me. I’ve never thought of giving up … I never lose hope in myself.”
Against the most heartbreaking odds, these girls never lose hope in themselves. The least we can do is give them a chance to go to school, fulfill that hope, and become who and what they are meant to be.’