First Lady Michelle Obama joined BeyoncÃ© and other stars in the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York to announce the launch of the #62MillionGirls campaign as part of the "Let Girls Learn" initiative. The campaign seeks to remove girls' roadblocks to education and offer them more opportunities. The #62MillionGirls campaign encourages women across the world to pose for self-portraits on social media to raise awareness on how 62 million girls around the world have no access to education.
During a recorded video appearance, Michelle Obama encouraged campaign supporters to share selfies on Instagram and Twitter along with what they have the opportunity to learn while in school using the hashtag #62MillionGirls.
The photos will be featured on the 62milliongirls.com website to raise awareness. Obama said:
"Right now, more than 62 million girls worldwide are out of school. As I've traveled around the world, I have met so many of these girls and they are so bright and so determined to make something of themselves."
She continued: "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."
Apart from being a moral issue, Obama highlighted its economic and health dimensions as well. Girls who get an education have better chances of taking care of themselves and their families with higher paying jobs. The campaign has a clear mission to offer young girls the opportunity to educate themselves because:
"When girls aren't given the chance to realize their potential, the whole world loses out," the official campaign statement says.
Michelle Obama was among the first to use the #62 million girls hashtag. Her tweet reads:
"In school, I learned how to speak up for myself. #62MillionGirls don't have that chance."
Women responded to Obama's plea and shared their school experiences and life skills acquired thanks to schooling. Tweets included:
"I went to school and learned that it was cool to be smart; #62milliongirls don't get that chance."
"In school I learned the skills to improve my situation. #62MillionGirls are denied that. http://62milliongirls.com," Lauren Freshman tweeted, while user Kerry Washington said:
"In school I learned to apply cultural & historical context. #62MillionGirls dont have that chance http://62milliongirls.com "
The "Let Girls Learn" initiative helps girls access education through "community-led solutions to reduce barriers that prevent adolescent girls from completing their education", and protects them from gender-driven violence and forced early marriage.
The initiative has trained over 30,000 teachers and provided more than 35 million textbooks and other teaching materials in just under a year.