MICHELLE Obama has told a group of inner-city school pupils “the world needs more girls like you”.
Once the ear-splitting screaming and cheering had died down, students from the Mulberry School For Girls in the heart of London’s East End retook their seats and got the chance to question the US First Lady.
They heard Mrs Obama tell them that, as someone who is black, female and also comes from a working-class background, she understands the need for a good education.
She told a packed assembly at the school for pupils aged 11 to 18 that she understands the challenge of being “overlooked” and undervalued.
Mrs Obama said: “With an education from this amazing school you all have every chance you need to rise above the noise and fulfil every one of your dreams.”
Despite facing Islamophobia and poverty, 83% of the students from the Tower Hamlets school, including many from ethnic minorities, manage to secure a place at university.
Mrs Obama said: “The world needs more girls like you to lead our parliaments, our boardrooms and our universities. We need you for tackling the problems of climate change, poverty and disadvantage.”
Mrs Obama told the girls she could understand how it feels to be “lost in the shuffle” and that she never would have believed she would one day be the First Lady of the US.
She also told them it can be difficult to feel comfortable when people are saying things about your religion and you have to face those who need to “see beyond the headscarf”.
Mrs Obama is in Britain to discuss her campaigns for girls’ education and support for military families.
She is a promoting the Let Girls Learn initiative, championed by her husband, US President Barack Obama.
The campaign is billed as “working together to open the doors of education for girls around the world”.