By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
From a struggling beginning, spiced by doubts that ‘a girl like me, a black girl from the South side of Chicago, should apply to Princeton’, the first African-American First Lady proved to be a ‘super woman’ and pacesetter for millions of African women.
Women’s role in African politics and development growth is increasing but more is needed from women for Africa to once again be a better global stakeholder. That can only be achieved when girls go to school and attain better education!
In 1996 in Sierra Leone women championed the cause for the National Provisional Revolutionary Council (NPRC) to hand over power to the first democratically elected government.
Michelle Obama’s story has once again created a window through which African girls can look and see the light that with education everything is possible!
Women in Africa are playing major roles in governance reforms in Africa, and examples abound, but unfortunately the level of school dropout amongst girls in Africa is growing.
Africa has the world’s highest rates of adolescent pregnancy, a factor that affects the health, education, and earning potential of millions of African girls, according to a report released last month by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Michelle Obama’s story is not just for African Americans but every African woman to emulate and be builders of Africa.
“Girls who are educated – they earn more money, they raise healthier families,” said Obama, explaining that 62 million girls around the world are not in school and are falling behind because of their lack of education.
Her devotion to education is rooted in her own family history and the role that school played in her life.
“There were some teachers who doubted that a girl like me, a black girl from the South side of Chicago, should apply to Princeton,” she said, telling the audience about her childhood.
Her father, Fraser Robinson III, was a city pump operator who made $858 (£593) a month, according to her biographer Peter Slevin.
She later earned degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, two of the nation’s top universities, and has worked as a university administrator.
Her favourite project “Let Girls Learn” is building bridges for girls worldwide by availing them the platform to empower themselves to be the administrators, scientists and leaders of the world.
Unfortunately, millions of girls are out of school in Africa caused by various factors ranging from tradition, childhood pregnancy and early marriage, poverty, neglect and religion.
These factors continue to hound the African girl and denying her the opportunity for stable empowerment in society and thus a call to all successful African women to reach out to girls in Africa and help them to rise up and be the Michelle Obamas of Africa.