Wed, Sep 21, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Michelle Obama event promotes girls’ schooling


US first lady Michelle Obama, left, embraces broadway actress Cynthia Erivo at an event at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in New York on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

US first lady Michelle Obama tapped some big voices to help deliver her push to get girls educated around the world.

She went to Broadway on Monday to host a concert for the spouses of global heads of state that included performances from the female-centric shows The Color Purple, Waitress,” Wicked and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

“More than 62 million girls around the world are counting on us to be their voice and I intend to continue speaking out on their behalf, not just for the rest of my time as first lady, but for the rest of my life,” Obama said. “And I hope that you all will join me.”

The concert was held at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre — the normal home of The Color Purple — as part of the Let Girls Learn initiative, which encourages world leaders to provide education opportunities to millions of girls globally who do not attend school.

“When people hear stories of girls who aren’t in school, they want to help. And as spouses of world leaders, so many of us here in this room have a platform that we can use to tell these stories and bring people together to take action for these girls. Because people will pick up the phone when we call,” Obama said.

The event, fronted by TV talk show host Stephen Colbert, took advantage of the gathering of world leaders in New York for the opening of the 71st UN General Assembly. More than 50 spouses attended, along with public-schoolchildren and girl scouts who packed the theater.

Colbert joked that Obama is one of the most admired women in the world, “despite her constantly telling everyone to eat their vegetables.”

Remarks also were made by three girls from Jordan, Pakistan and Malawi about the work in their home countries still needed for adolescent girls, as well as songwriter Sara Bareilles, Jordan’s Queen Rania and Gertrude Mutharika, the first lady of Malawi.

Bareilles, who wrote the songs Brave and Love Song, helped create the musical Waitress, the first-ever Broadway musical with an all-female creative team. She joked that she did not even notice that at first.

“What a gift that was — that I was given an opportunity to be so seen and so empowered and so trusted and so reflective of my environment that I actually for a moment forgot to notice how rare it was,” Bareilles said. “That is my wish for girls all over the world: That they get the chance and the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the world around them.”

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