On Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at a panel at SXSW where women’s empowerment was the main focus.
Joined on stage by actress Sophia Bush (Chicago P.D.), songwriter Diane Warren and rappers Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah, Obama and the others spoke about women in the arts, education and society.
The most headline-worthy piece of information that came out of the panel was Obama statement that she would not run for president. “I’m going to continue to work with our young people all over the world,” she said. “But not as president. I will not run for president,” earning a collective sigh of disappointment from the crowd.
On the subject of education, the L.A. Times wrote, Obama spoke at length about “‘doubters’ who either implicitly or explicitly told her she would not succeed because she was a black girl.” She emphasized that millions of girls across the globe are unable to attend school for reasons related to violence, discrimination and a lack of satisfactory healthcare. “For me, 62 million girls not getting an education, that’s personal,” the Princeton grad said.
Obama also released a Lenny Letter on the subject, criticizing “the belief that girls should be valued for their bodies, not their minds; the belief that girls simply aren’t worthy of an education, and their best chance in life is to be married off when they’re barely even teenagers and start having children of their own.”
The issue of representation came up during SXSW conversation as well. As Flavorwire notes, “When asked what men could do to help level the playing field for women, Obama said, ‘When you have a seat at the table, and you have access to power, the question you can ask yourselves, is there diversity around the table? Are there voices and opinions that don’t sound like yours?’ She finished by saying, ‘There are a lot of men-only tables going on.'”
Finally, Obama announced the release of a song; a girls’ empowerment anthem titled “This Is For My Girls.” The song, which features Missy Elliott, Janelle Monae, Zendaya, Lea Michele, Kelly Rowland, Chloe & Halle, Jadagrace and Kelly Clarkson, is available for purchase on iTunes. Here’s a small sample of Missy Elliott’s verse.