Michelle Obama has joined Snapchat, a move she hopes will reach out to younger supporters of her message about the importance of education, the Mirror is reporting. And if you’re interested in following the First Lady on Snapchat, her username, not surprisingly, is MichelleObama.
— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) June 21, 2016
One of the first visitors to Obama’s new Snapchat account was late-night talk show host James Corden.
Wait a minute… What’s @JKCorden doing on Michelle Obama’s Snapchat??
— The Late Late Show (@latelateshow) June 21, 2016
The two had just finished filming a segment for Corden’s popular bit, “Carpool Karaoke” (where James and a celebrity go for a ride in James’ car and the two sing songs).
“Carpool Karaoke that’s a wrap.”
Mrs. Obama has deeper reasons for joining Snapchat than just posting emojis and hanging out with late-night talk show hosts. The first lady hopes to use the social media platform to connect with young people as she and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, joined by actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto, embark on a tour of Spain, Morocco, and Liberia to promote her message about the importance of education for girls, according to an official White House press release.
“The First Lady launched her official Snapchat account today to encourage students in the US to follow her trip… To give young people everywhere a fun way to follow her trip, learn about the more than 62 million girls around the world who aren’t in school, and take action to support them.”
According to UNICEF, tens of millions of girls around the world — girls who by all rights should be attending school — are denied a basic education for a variety of reasons. Usually, the reasons are economic; financially-strapped third-world nations aren’t always able to provide a free public education, and families who can’t afford to pay the fees either don’t send their children to school at all, or only send boys. Similarly, girls may be kept home to handle household duties. In other cases, sanitation is so poor that girls miss days of school at a time because they are forced to stay at home during their menstrual periods.
Girls who manage to attend school in some nations may find that the schools are not welcoming of them. Due to money limitations, there may not be separate bathroom facilities for boys or girls. Similarly, there may not be enough female teachers, and girls with male teachers can face violence and sexual exploitation, not just from their teachers but from their peers.
In other places, cultural and religious norms hold that girls shouldn’t be given an education at all. In extreme cases, girls attempting to go to school have been subject to violence. Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai became a spokesperson for girls’ education after she was shot by the Taliban while attempting to go to school.
UNICEF notes that guaranteeing girls an education is essential to improving not only their lives but the lives of those in their communities.
“Providing girls with an education helps break the cycle of poverty: educated women are less likely to marry early and against their will; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have healthy babies; and are more likely to send their children to school. When all children have access to a quality education rooted in human rights and gender equality, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come.”
It is unclear, as of this writing, if Michelle Obama intends to continue to use Snapchat after her upcoming trip.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]