First Lady Michelle Obama attends the presentation of “Let Girls Learn” at the Matadero cultural center on June 30, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo: Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images)

What does education mean to young women around the world? Former first lady Michelle Obama interviewed them to find out.

The interviews, done in conjunction with Refinery29, were with four young women from Ghana, Guatemala, Chicago and Nepal.

“I plan to continue this work for the rest of my life, and I’m proud that my husband and I are creating a global adolescent girls’ education program through the Obama Foundation,” Obama said. “I want every girl on the planet to have the same kind of opportunities that I’ve had, and that my daughters are having, to fulfill their potential and pursue their dreams.”

During her time as first lady, Obama launched Let Girls Learn, an initiative to help adolescent girls across the globe have access to education.

While speaking with 19-year-old Eva Lewis, they discovered a shared experience: both grew up in the south side of Chicago and commuted more than an hour to a top public school. 

“When I did switch to the north side to go to the number one public high school in the country, I found that myself and other brown students were behind in many subjects,” Lewis told Obama in the interview. “That often made me feel as though education was not meant for me. But I stayed motivated, keeping in mind that so many people don’t even have access to education at all.”

The other women discussed the financial struggles they faced when it came to their educations. 

Pearl Quarmyne, a 20-year-old young woman from a small village in Ghana, worked to make ends meet and stay in school, and said she knew many girls who dropped out due to pregnancy or not being able to afford education materials, from books to uniforms.

“Girls’ education is not just about getting girls enrolled in school — it’s about ensuring that they stay there and are safe,” Quarmyne said.

 

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