Speaking to a room full of entrepreneurs, CEOs, and C-Suite executives at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., First Lady Michelle Obama called on the leading women to help her in moving her Let Girls Learn initiative forward.
“I can’t help but see myself in these girls. I can’t help but see my daughters in these girls and I just can’t walk away,” FLOTUS said to the room of power women after showing a clip from her new 62 million girls campaign.
Currently, 62 million girls around the world are not enrolled in school and President Obama and First Lady Obama have made it their commitment to change that. Their government-wide effort calls on the support of organizations, community leaders, and top business people to invest in advancing the educational opportunities for all young women.
In addition to urging all of the women in the room to get involved with her Let Girls Learn initiative, FLOTUS also praised the organizations that have stepped up to the plate and shown their support for the campaign thus far. She announced that UPS, Lands’ End, and Xerox Foundation have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars towards the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund; meanwhile, Alex and Ani will be launching a charm bangle in the spring of 2016 to benefit the initiative. The federal government will also launch a $25 million Let Girls Learn Challenge Fund, which will challenge business, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to identify the best solutions to tackle our world’s education crisis.
“We need to be these girls network,” said First Lady Obama. “We need to do for them what so many women have done for us.”
Aside from the hundreds of executive women in the room, Fortune also partnered with Girls Inc. to bring more than 30 high school girls to this year’s summit as part of the event’s Most Powerful Women High School Mentoring program. The group of young women participated in speed mentoring sessions with a select group of women from Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list to gain insight on college, careers, and how to attain long-lasting success. After hearing remarks from First Lady Obama, each of the girls were awarded free laptops from Heidrick and Struggles, which is an executive search firm that has partnered with leadership programs in Rwanda for adolescent girls.
While the Obama’s prepare for the end of their term, FLOTUS made it clear that her dedication to advancing girls education worldwide will extend well beyond her time in the White House.
“I plan to continue this work for the rest of my life,” she told the audience at the National Portrait Gallery in D.C. “I’m in this for the long haul.”