On Wednesday, Michelle Obama delivered a keynote address at the South by Southwest Festival where she, Missy Elliott and songwriter Diane Warren spoke about the Let Girls Learn initiative, which seeks to break barriers to education for girls. Now, organizers have released professionally shot highlights of the landmark event.
“It’s just a sign of what a group of women can do together. We can change the world, we can have an impact on these girls and they don’t know we’re doing it,” Obama said of the initiative. “They don’t know that here in the United States, at South by Southwest, sitting on this stage are a group of women who care so deeply that they have put their talents to good use on behalf of a group of young women that we know need our support and our love.”
A Diane Warren-penned track titled “This Is for My Girls” accompanied the Let Girls Learn initiative, with Elliott appearing on the song with Zendaya, Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae, Kelly Rowland, Lea Michele and more. “The message is important and I wanted to be a part of it,” Elliott said. “Those records like that, that is uplifting and encouraging to people.” The rapper compared “This Is for My Girls” to “empowering” tracks like “Ladies First,” “Ladies’ Night” and “Where My Girls At?”
Obama also detailed how men can contribute towards ensuring that women, especially their own daughters, have a brighter future. “You raise a daughter, these are the women who are going to be impacted by the things that we aren’t doing today,” Obama said. “In this country today, women still makes 70 cents on every dollar a man makes… I hope we’re all raising young men who are coming to these positions of power with a different level of sensitivity and understanding and – as I said, I can’t say it more – empathy to create inclusion and that’s how we start to fix this problem.”
Obama also suggested another way in which men can ensure that there is more diversity, both racially and gender-wise, in “their seat at the table where they have access to power.”