In a star-studded event on the Today show in support of International Day of the Girl, the former First Lady, 54, announced Global Girls Alliance, a new Obama Foundation initiative that aims to empower girls around the world through education.
“The stats show that when you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country,” said the Becoming author. “If we care about climate change, if we care about poverty, then we have to care about education.”
In partnership with GoFundMe, the initiative will offer funding, networking opportunities, training and other resources to grassroots leaders all around the world.
“We want to lift up the grassroots leaders in communities all over the world who are clearing away the hurdles that too many girls face,” Mrs. Obama added. “Because the evidence is clear: educating girls isn’t just good for the girls, it’s good for all of us.”
The event also featured musical acts by Meghan Trainor, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson in front of the live TODAY audience in New York. Kotb and Guthrie’s daughters sang along and danced below the stage alongside Clarkson’s daughter, River Rose, 4.
“I was so excited to have my daughter here,” Guthrie, 46, told PEOPLE at the event. “She was definitely my favorite guest of the morning, even with a former first lady and three amazing music superstars!”
“To have her be here and to see her dance and see her shine and see her make friends — I’m so proud of her,” Guthrie added.
Karlie Kloss was also in the audience, along with Zendaya and Freida Pinto. On Instagram, Kloss wrote, “Celebrating #DayofTheGirl with these trailblazers. Congratulations @michelleobama on launching @globalgirlsalliance working to improve the lives of [sic] girls through education.”
Mrs. Obama also celebrated the news on Instagram, sharing a music video starring a group of young girls singing along to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” The former first lady herself makes a cameo at the end of the video.
“Right now, more than 98 million adolescent girls around the world are not in school. I see myself in these girls. I see my daughters in these girls,” she said in the post. “I know a lot of you see yourselves and your families in them, too. That’s why today on the International #DayoftheGirl, the @ObamaFoundation is launching the @GlobalGirlsAlliance—a program to empower adolescent girls around the world through education. We believe that change happens from the ground up, so we’re working to support grassroots leaders and to spur action from people like you, all around the world. We can accomplish more together than we can on our own, so I hope you’ll join our alliance—because the future of our world is only as bright as our girls.”
Meanwhile, on Today, when Guthrie asked if Mrs Obama was interested in pursuing a career in politics, the former first lady answered, “Absolutely not. I’ve never wanted to be a politician. Nothing has changed in me. I want to serve… There are so many ways to make an impact. Politics is not my thing. It’s as simple as that.”
The mother of two also opened up about how her life has changed since leaving the White House, and how her daughters — Malia, 20, and Sasha, 17 — are adjusting following eight years in the public eye.
“It’s the small things,” she said. “It’s opening up my door and walking out, it’s enjoying the weather and sitting on my patio.”
“There’s nothing new that’s going on. It’s just that we’re out in the real world,” she mused, adding that she believes “the key to a successful marriage is separate bathrooms!”
In a tweet, Mrs. Obama’s husband and former president Barack Obama wrote, “I’m so proud of the work @MichelleObama has done over the years to ensure adolescent girls have access to education, and I know that the @GirlsAlliance will be another great chapter in her effort to get girls the opportunities they deserve.”
I’m so proud of the work @MichelleObama has done over the years to ensure adolescent girls have access to education, and I know that the @GirlsAlliance will be another great chapter in her effort to get girls the opportunities they deserve. https://t.co/Ohv6NAylo4— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 11, 2018