By Justin Sink - 08/06/14 10:47 AM EDT
First lady Michelle Obama wants American teenagers who skip class or shirk their homework to think about girls across the globe who are denied access to education because of their gender.
In an open letter published Wednesday in Seventeen, the first lady tells American girls disaffected with school that if their peers in another country “can walk hours each day from their villages to attend school ... then I know you can overcome any obstacles you face.”
“Knowing the heartbreaking challenges so many girls in the world are facing, think about all the girls you know who don’t take their education seriously — girls who skip class, or don’t do their homework, or even drop out because they don’t see the point of school,” the first lady writes.
Obama says that girls in the U.S. should set “concrete goals” like showing up on time for class or finishing their homework. She also encourages American teenagers to donate time or money to helping women across the world access education.
“So many girls around the world would give anything to get the kind of education that so many girls take for granted in the U.S.,” Obama said. “And I hope you will show just a fraction of their courage and determination in getting your own education and helping them get theirs.”
Obama's letter was published shortly before the first lady spoke at the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. During her address to fellow spouses, the first lady said it was important “to make room for the next generation of leaders.”
“One of the things I'm most passionate about is the role education has to play in the lives of our young people,” Obama said.