For young women growing up in the Middle East, life is anything but easy. While American feminists are fighting a so-called wage gap, for the rest of the world’s women and girls, there are far more pressing fights. In many countries, it’s impossible to leave the house unaccompanied, to have hair uncovered, to drive a car, or to obtain an education past middle school.
This week First Lady Michelle Obama visited Qatar, one of these backwards Muslim countries, and gave a forceful speech on many of these injustices. The Guardian reported on her remarks,
The US first lady, on a seven-day trip to the Middle East, told an education conference in Doha that an “honest conversation” was needed around the globe about how women were treated and how it stopped millions of girls finishing their schooling.
“If we truly want to get girls into our classrooms then we need to have an honest conversation about how we view and treat women in our societies and this conversation needs to happen in every country on this planet, including my own,” she told delegates at the World Innovation Summit for Education.
“[B]ack when I was a girl, even though I was bright and curious and I had plenty of opinions of my own, people were often more interested in hearing what my brother had to say. And my parents didn’t have much money; neither of them had a university degree. So when I got to school, I sometimes encountered teachers who assumed that a girl like me wouldn’t be a good student. I was even told that I would never be admitted to a prestigious university, so I shouldn’t even bother to apply,” Obama said at the Qatar National Convention Center in Doha.
One of the things the Obamas are good at is making everything, even education injustice in the Middle East, about them. As a young woman, Mrs. Obama attended a magnet high school, Princeton University for undergraduate, and Harvard University for law school. In her speech she compared this upbringing, these opportunities, to the situation many young girls in the Middle East face.
Perpetually the victims, even while talking to young girls who risk acid attacks walking miles to school, the Obamas are exceptionally good at directing attention first and foremost to themselves, even while giving a speech about helping others in need.
Do you think Michelle Obama was the right person to address this convention in Qatar?