Earlier this week we asked the question, “Can a ‘feminist anthem’ ever truly be feminist?” after the women of Saturday Night Live poked fun at women’s empowerment songs. Well, one of the nation’s most powerful women just offered up an answer to that question—and it’s a resounding yes.
As part of the Obamas’ Let Girls Learn initiative—a federal government-wide project to educate the 62 million girls around the world who aren’t currently in school—Michelle Obama gathered a group of superstar musicians to put together the girls’ empowerment anthem “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 through the iTunes store; all proceeds raised in the U.S. go to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund.
Sneak a listen to Missy Elliott’s verse below!
Written by Grammy winner Diane Warren—the woman behind such hits as “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith—and produced by AOL’s MAKERS, the song celebrates girls’ and women’s strength.
As Missy raps,
“This is for my ladies like soldiers, we stand up/ Remember when Tupac told us keep our head up/ And even when the times get rough, we get up.”
Said the First Lady, “Diane Warren and this collective of powerful, talented artists have truly taken action in support of Let Girls Learn. I am thrilled that they’ve created this anthem for the 62 million girls around the world who are not in school.”
Obama debuted the song in advance of her appearance at SXSW, where she gave a keynote address Wednesday—with Missy Elliott, Diane Warren, Sophia Bush and moderated by Queen Latifah—about the #62MillionGirls project. The panelists spoke about finding their passions, the importance of girls’ education and overcoming obstacles throughout their lives.
Obama also wrote a Lenny Letter explaining why educating girls worldwide—and breaking cultural taboos that keep them out of school—is so important to her. On the reasons many girls are denied an education, she writes:
[It’s] very much about attitudes and beliefs: 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.
She goes on to say that supporters of the #62MillionGirls initiative can take action by hosting “a fun run, a battle of the bands, a trivia contest, a cocktail party” to raise money for the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund, or by taking a pledge on Change.org.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Gage Skidmore licensed under Creative Commons 2.0
Stephanie Hallett is research editor at Ms. Follow her on Twitter @stephhallett.