In an effort to raise awareness about female education, Michelle Obama shared an old school photo on Thursday, and boy, is it a good one. The former first lady posted one of her school portraits in a Throwback Thursday Instagram post that advocated for The Girls Opportunity Alliance, an Obama Foundation program that seeks to empower girls all around the world through education.
While many social media users treat Throwback Thursday posts as a fun opportunity to reminisce about the old days with a nostalgic photograph, Obama used the popular internet trend for good. Her Throwback Thursday Instagram post, which featured a yearbook-style photograph of a young, school-age Obama grinning from ear to ear, was meant to mark the International Day of Charity and raise awareness about the million of girls around the world not currently receiving an education.
"It's after Labor Day, so I'm thinking about all the young people heading back to school and reflecting on my own days as a student in Chicago," the former first lady wrote on Instagram. "I learned a lot in school — how to do my multiplication tables and structure a paragraph, yes, but also how to push myself, be a good friend, and dust myself off after a failure."
As the back-to-school season winds down in the United States, Obama implored her followers on both Instagram and Twitter not to forget the millions of girls around the world who are shut out from receiving an education. "It's so easy for us to take our education for granted, especially here in the United States," she wrote. "Right now, more than 98 million adolescent girls around the world are not in school. I believe every girl on the planet deserves the same kind of opportunities that I've had — a chance to fulfill her potential and pursue her dreams."
While the factors that keep them out of school can vary, statistics continue to show that, worldwide, women and young girls lack the same access to education that men and boys are given. In rural areas of the world, for example, only 39 percent of girls attend secondary school compared to 45 percent of boys. As a result, women are reported to comprise more than two-thirds of the world's illiterate population, according to the United Nations.
In her Throwback Thursday Instagram post, the former first lady went on to argue that increasing girls' access to education would result in a number of long-term, worldwide benefits. "We know that when we give girls a chance to learn, they'll seize it. And when they do, our whole world benefits," she wrote. "Girls who go to school have healthier children, higher salaries, lower poverty rates, and they can even help boost their entire nation's economy."
Obama then asked her followers to join her in observing the International Day of Charity by sharing one of their own "back-to-school" photos on social media. She also encouraged followers to donate either directly to The Girls Opportunity Alliance or to one of the female education-focused grassroots GoFundMe campaigns they had vetted.
"The future of our world is only as bright as our girls," she concluded.