Michelle Obama sets challenge to male feminists at SXSW 2016.
In what could be called the oddest supergroup ever to grace a stage at SXSW, Michelle Obama joined Queen Latifah, Sophia Bush, Diane Warren and Missy Elliott to present the Let Girls Learn keynote on Wednesday morning. With the Women in STEM campaign making waves in the tech industries, and a general groundswell of feminist movements in everything from art to education, SXSW proved itself to be right on point yet again.
The First Lady used the panel to appeal, possibly controversially, to the men in the audience and beyond, telling them “We need you, get it together” and suggesting that men in power need to do more to level the playing field: “If you’ve got a seat at the table, and every seat is taken by men, you need to fix that table.” “Understanding and empathy from men” is essential if true equality is ever to be achieved.
To the disappointment of the packed hall, Obama announced that she won’t be running for President, citing the struggles of her own children as the reason. “They’ve handled it with great poise so far, but enough’s enough, they’re done” and, in a nod to the entrepreneurial spirit of SXSW, asserted that “you don’t need to be President of the USA to change the world” and that she’ll not be stopping any time soon. Clearly she is a woman on a mission, and even in the cavernous main hall at Austin Convention Centre, that passion was palpable.
The Let Girls Learn initiative aims to address the 62 million girls and young women around the world with little to no formal education.
Words: Thomas Jackson