Former first lady Michelle Obama on Thursday announced the Global Girls Alliance, an organization that will support some 1,500 girls-education groups around the globe.
Echoing one of the causes she championed from the East Wing, Obama said during an interview on the “Today” show that getting girls into classrooms has a ripple effect. “When you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country,” she said. “If we care about climate change, if we care about poverty, then we have to care about education.”
Obama said the Global Girls Alliance will offer funding to on-the-ground organizations as well as training, technical support, and networking opportunities.
Asked about the progress the #MeToo movement has made in the last year, Obama “I’m surprised at how much has changed and how much has not changed, and I think that’s where the fire is coming from,” she said. “Enough is enough. The world is a sadly dangerous place for women and girls…and I think young women are tired of it.”
And of the backlash to the movement, particularly from men, Obama was resolute. “Change is not a direct, smooth path — there’s going to be bumps and resistance. There has been a status quo… and that is changing and there’s going to be a little discomfort. It’s up to women out there to say, ‘sorry you feel uncomfortable but I’m paving the way for the next generation.'”
In the “Today” interview, the former first lady says she’s sticking to her famous motto, “when they go low, we go high,”even though prominent Democrats have been sounding a different note of late.
“Fear is not a proper motivator — hope always wins out,” she said. (Predictably, she answered the perennial question of whether she would ever run for office with an emphatic “absolutely not.”)
And she joked about her friendship with former president George W. Bush, captured in a moment during the funeral for Sen. John McCain in August when Bush surreptitiously handed Obama a mint. “We are forever seatmates,” she said, explaining that protocol dictates that they always sit next to one another whenever former presidents and their spouses gather. “He is my partner in crime… I love him to death.”
(The mints, she teased, were old — they were in a White House box that the former president had apparently taken from his tenure there.)
It was a simple gesture, much circulated on social media, but Obama said the interest in it underscores the desire people have to see bipartisan civility. “They are hungry for that,” she said.
The Global Girls Alliance isn’t her only project — Obama’s memoir, “Becoming,” drops next month, after which she’s embarking on a rock-star-style national book tour (she’s sold out stadiums, folks). And she’s launched a voter-registration campaign called When We All Vote, enlisting famous pals like Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda to help.