Last night CNN Films aired We Will Rise, a documentary following Michelle Obama as she, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto and Isha Sesay traveled to Morocco and Liberia to meet with young women facing incredible obstacles to gain access to education. The film shines light on Let Girls Learn, the organization lobbying for girls’ rights to education.
The 60 minute film began with Isha and Meryl interviewing girls in their communities and homes, asking about their day to day life. One of them, Raphia Feel, has to wake up early in the morning to bathe her brothers and sisters, clean the house, and then goes to school. After school she does more work at home and finally does her homework from 9-11pm with the aid of a dim light.
Another woman named Janet Jackson (who realizes she shares the name with a superstar) faces similar hardships, but has a passion for singing just like her namesake. When Isha asked her to sing she gladly did, as I sat there with tears in my eyes. This once again hit the message home of how fortunate we are to have access to so many resources in the United States while seeing the positivity of others in the face of such adversity.
The girls were prepped and then the moment came where Mrs. Obama spoke with each of them. It was truly amazing to watch these young women speak so bravely in front of the First Lady of the United States about such personal matters. Below are what I believe to be the 10 most powerful quotes from the documentary:
- “These girls are our changemakers, dreamers and our visionaries.” - Michelle Obama
- “You don't have to be 1st lady. You have to care and be honest about it.” - Michelle Obama
- “When I tell my story I don't start with my degrees from Harvard and Princeton. I think about my family.” - Michelle Obama
- “If Madame President can be strong then I can be strong like her and be like her too.” - Raphia Felee
- “Confidence and pride is the beginning of being a leader, including persevering even when you didn't feel like it.” - Michelle Obama
- “People need to value you b/c of who you are and your stories and challenges. It's what makes you unique, smarter, better. I had to overcome things other ppl in my position never had to overcome.” - Michelle Obama
- We can't waste that kind of talent amongst girls. We lose out on that potential when we don't invest in it.” - Michelle Obama
- “The health of any nation can be measured by the women in their society.” - Michelle Obama
- “Within each young woman you have strength of purpose. You just have to reach in and access it. Losing heart is the most dangerous thing, Take strength from friends or 1 person who says you are capable.” -Meryl Streep
- “I see myself in all of these girls and remind me of the work that needs to be done.” - Michelle Obama
There is clearly still a long road ahead, but if we face it together as community of women we will be stronger. Let’s move forward and commit to advancing women globally.