8 important things Michelle Obama has done for feminism as first lady
Seeing as Michelle Obama will no longer be FLOTUS from Friday onwards – we know, we’re not ready for it to happen either – we’ve been thinking a lot about how inspirational her time in the White House has been.
Here are a 8 reasons Michelle Obama is our feminist idol.
1. Supporting women and their education has been a constant part of her time as first lady.
While her husband’s been doing his thang, Michelle has been creating her own legacy – including the “Let Girls Learn” initiative started in March 2015. The idea of it is to help educate the 62 million girls around the world who aren’t in school. And she wrote an essay for The Atlantic in 2016, when she talks about the initiative, which we can’t help but feel sums up why she is a feminist idol. Barack Obama GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY
“I see myself in these girls, I see my daughters in these girls, and I simply cannot walk away from them. And I plan to keep raising my voice on their behalf for the rest of my life. I plan to keep urging world leaders to invest in their potential and create societies that truly value them as human beings. I plan to keep reaching out to local leaders, families, and girls themselves to raise awareness about the power of sending girls to school.”
In October 2016, the Obama administration announced the commitment of another five million dollars towards the the Let Girls Learn initiative’s objectives.
2. When she slayed with her speech at the State Department Women of Courage Awards in 2009.
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Michelle is constantly slaying in our eyes. But especially so when she stated: “The women we honour today teach us three very important lessons. One, that as women, we must stand up for ourselves. The second, as women, we must stand up for each other. And finally, as women, we must stand up for justice for all.” We feel that we all need to remember that speech from Obama in the years to come. *writes it down on a poster for our rooms*
3. Her music taste is girl power goals. Music GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY
International Day of the Girl is obvs a very important chance for feminists everywhere to celebrate each other. And Michelle took the opportunity to give us a soundtrack for doing this to, as she shared her favourite feminist “girl power” playlist on Spotify.
What ladies featured on this banging set of tunes? Well, everything from soul singers of the 60s to female artists topping the charts today – Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and, because no girl power play is complete without it, Destiny's Child.
The thought of Michelle dancing around the living room to I’m A Survivor bring us much joy.
Let’s also just remember the songs she chose for Carpool Karaoke; her and Missy Elliot = GOALS.
4. When she spoke out about Trump.
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Back when we still thought Hillary Clinton could become the new US president, Michelle took an opportunity in New Hampshire to speak out about her opponent…(do we even need to remind you who?) In just a few lines Michelle tore into Trump in the way many women wanted to, after his sexual assault allegations came to light, explaining how she felt with these powerful lines: “I listen to all of this and I feel it so personally and I'm sure that many of you do too. The shameful comments about our bodies, the disrespect of our ambitions and our intellect, the belief you can do anything you want to a woman? It's cruel, it's frightening. And the truth is that it hurts. It hurts.” Barack Obama GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY
It was a raw and emotional speech against rape culture and was one of the most memorable moments of the election season.
She also took just a few lines to empower women listening around the world: “You see, while our mothers and grandmothers were often powerless to change their circumstances, today, we as women have all the power we need to determine the outcome of this election. We have knowledge. We have a voice.”
Preach it, sista – we do indeed have a voice.
5. When she just went for it and told men to “be better”.
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Let’s remember how great it was to witness Michelle hanging out with Oprah Winfrey at the United State of Women Summit. Meanwhile, there was a brilliantly sassy message aimed at men. “Be better at everything,” Michelle said. “Be better fathers. Good lord, just being good fathers who love your daughters and are providing a solid example of what it means to be a good man in the world, showing them what it feels like to be loved. That is the greatest gift that the men in my life gave to me.”
6. She has constantly stood up for African women. Clapping GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY
It was when she was addressing a group of young African leaders in 2014, though, that she made it really clear that respect for women is critical when it comes to making a nation successful – a message that we love.
“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens,” she said.
She also used her status to powerfully and emotively spoke out about the oppressed circumstances many African women find themselves in.
She said: “Any man who uses his strength to oppress women is a coward, and he is holding back the progress of his family and his country.”
7. She reminded us that boys and romance shouldn’t always be the most important thing.
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Michelle was taking a speech as an opportunity to tell American girls that education is more important than teenage romance – but we feel her words will resonate with feminists no matter what age they are. Our fave line that said: “Compete with the boys. Beat the boys.” Ever a relatable FLOTUS, she shared her own experiences, and we feel it’s something schoolgirls everywhere should hear: “There is no boy, at this age, cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting an education,” she said. “If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the President of the United States.”
8. When she empowered us all with this one, brilliant, inspirational line…
Michelle said in this video: “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”
And, really, that just sums up why we’re calling her a feminist icon.
Note to self: Be more like Michelle Obama.