SXSW 2016

Michelle Obama Sits on Star-Studded SXSW Panel to Encourage Girls' Education and Empowerment

Michelle Obama Sits on Star-Studded SXSW Panel to Encourage Girls' Education and Empowerment
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In case you missed it, this year’s South by Southwest festival featured a live streamed panel with First Lady Michelle Obama and other esteemed female celebrities, including Queen Latifah, Sophia Bush, Missy Elliott, and Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren. Their purpose in sitting down to chat was to spread awareness about the importance of education for girls and women around the world—a cause that's near and dear to the First Lady and her Let Girls Learn initiative.

Today, there are 62 million girls worldwide who are denied the right to education, hence the #62MillionGirls Let Girls Learn hashtag. For Obama and the rest of the panel, the goal is to encourage and empower women to push for their educations despite stifling cultural norms.

SXSW Panel
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

“As I’ve traveled around the country, I’ve heard horrible stories about young women who were trying to get an education and being pushed down [by society],” Obama said. “That inspired me to launch Let Girls Learn.”

In addition to partnering with AOL Makers and Change.org, Obama’s also tapping the entertainment industry to get the message out there. As previously mentioned, the celeb-packed panel included renowned songwriter, Diane Warren, who graciously penned an upbeat girls’ empowerment anthem specifically for the cause. The song, called “This Is for My Girls,” is now available on iTunes with 100 percent of proceeds going to the cause.

RELATED: Watch President Obama and Misty Copeland’s Moving Conversation About Race and Body Image

In reflecting on the notable strides already made by Let Girls Learn, Obama told the SXSW audience: “We can have an impact on these girls and they don’t even know we are doing it. They don’t know that we’re here in the United States, sitting here on this stage and putting our talents together to help.” Toward the end of the panel discussion, Mrs. Obama added jokingly, “We can’t forget about the president. He helped, too.”

RELATED: Michelle Obama Recruits Zendaya, Missy Elliott, Kelly Clarkson, and More to Help #62MillionGirls Learn

We have a feeling this is just the beginning when it comes to Obama's noble efforts. After all, since launching Let Girls Learn in 2015, there have been 17,510 pledges made—and counting. Upon leaving the White House come Nov., 2016, Obama said she plans to continue on with the Let Girls Learn initiative. “There’s always a platform and when I leave [The White House] there will be another platform. I just don’t know what that will feel like yet—but these passions are not things that go away,” she said.

RELATED: First Lady Michelle Obama on Her Social Media Savvy: "We Were Always Striving to Be Cutting Edge"

To learn more about the cause, watch the official PSA video from AOL Makers below. To take action and make a pledge, visit 62MillionGirls.com.

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