SXSW 2016 – Michelle Obama and Let Girls Learn

Michelle Obama © Per Ole HagenMichelle Obama was the first keynote speaker for the Music festival at SXSW this year. Some days earlier, her husband President Barack Obama held the keynote for the Interactive festival. While he chose to speak about how entrepreneurs and the tech community should use technology to help expand democracy and fight climate change, the First Lady chose the occasion to talk about her program Let Girls Learn. On stage with her she had Queen Latifa, Sophia Bush, Missy Elliott and Diane Warren

Diane Warren © Per Ole HagenDiane Warren

All these women collaborate in one way or another with Michelle Obama on her project, which aims to help the 62 million girls in the world who don’t get any education at all. One of the results of their helping, is the song This Is For The Girls, which was released on iTunes March 16th. The singers are Kelly Rowland, Missy Elliott, Kelly Clarkson, Chloe X Halle, Janelle Monae, Zendaya, Lea Michelle and Jadagrace, and ace songwriter Diane Warren has written the song.

Chloe X Halle © Per Ole Hagen

Before the keynote, Chloe X Halle performed with a fresh and vital set.

Queen Latifa © Per Ole HagenQueen Latifa

The keynote was moderated by Queen Latifa, with Michelle Obama, Missy Elliott, Sophia Bush and Diane Warren talking together about what it has meant for them to be a women in men’s worlds, what the pivotal point was when they started to care about other people’s prpblems, and what music influenced them. Both Queen Latifa and Michelle Obama both had Stevie Wonder as their most important musical influence. – My music influences comes from Steve Wonder. His Talking Book was the first and best. I got it from my granddad, and I played it over and over again until Songs in the Key of Life came, and I played that, too, over and over again.

Michelle Obama Sophia Bush © Per Ole HagenSophia Bush and Michelle Obama

The most important issue for Michelle Obama and the rest of the panel, was Let Girls Learn. The First Lady talked about the importance of learning which have positive results for the girl herself and for the society as a whole: – We know that when girls get education, this affects a lot of things, they are four times less likely to become child mothers, it influences the spreading of HIV, and it also affects a country’s GDP. For every year of primary education, the wages earned later will increase by a factor of 10%, and for every year of secondary education, the wages increase with 20%.

Missy Elliott © Per Ole HagenMissy Elliott

Closing the keynote, Queen Latifa asked Michelle Obama what one thing she would miss when she had to move out of the White House. – The young people in this country keeps me inspired. I see that little girl from the South Side who was told she couldn’t. Experiencing this journey with all the young people I get to meet has inspired me immensely. And, one thing, you can’t be in public life without loving people.

Sophia Bush © Per Ole HagenSophia Bush

She also got that one question everyone wants to ask: Would you run for president? – I will not run for president. The reason should be obvious – I have two young people at home, being the daughters of the president, and you just just think about what that’s like! But I won’t slow down and I will continue the things I am doing. There are lots of things I can do better by not being the first lady or the president.

Michelle Obama © Per Ole Hagen

Michelle Obama © Per Ole Hagen

All the proceeds from the sale of This Is For The Girls will go the the Let Girls Learn project.

Missy Elliott © Per Ole Hagen

Sophia Bush © Per Ole Hagen

All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.

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