Michelle Obama’s speech on “Let Girls Learn”

Subject: Gender Studies
Type: Rhetorical Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 874
Topics: Women Rights, Barack Obama, Gender Inequality, High School
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The speech by the former first lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama was meant to persuade the world to support the girl child in attaining her dreams. In her speech, she mentions that there are 62 million girls around the globe, who are not in school. The girls can go to high school, but societal limitations force them to drop out. She uses examples of what she witnessed in Morocco and Liberia to show the extent girls are neglected in favor of boys. She cites the challenges that girls face, such as teenage pregnancies and early marriage alongside the difficulties of being a young, uneducated mother with children. Her Excellency Michelle Obama also uses her example to show that the situation in America is not different from that in Africa. Throughout her speech, she identifies scenarios that show women can make the world a better place. The venue of the speech was in Spain. Her audience was young Spanish women. The statement is relevant in that; the world is in a critical position where women continue to be sidelined despite being in the 21st century. Most of the problems experienced by the families and the world can be solved by women if they are given a chance. In her speech, Michelle Obama uses pathos, which according to McCormack (131) and Stockwood, David and Jeffrey (23) is the emotional appeal, to persuade her audience to take action by letting the girls go to school.

Michelle Obama was the first lady of the United States at the time she issued the speech. In societal view, she was the wife of the most influential man in the world – former president of the United States of America, Barrack Obama. She attracts admiration from both females and males around the globe. When words on letting girls learn come from such a prominent person, the audience is likely to feel motivated to take action. In her speech, she uses examples of her children saying that she knows the challenges of raising active, smart, and outspoken girls. The confession from her has an emotional effect on the audience for they feel that someone, who has an experience like there is, talking to them. The girls in the audience feel like they are receiving advice from their mother and not from a wife of the head of state.

In her speech, she says that 62 million girls, who are smart and talented, just like those in the audience, lack a chance to attend school. She tries to compare those girls, who are not in school, with those in the attendance, to make them feel emotionally connected. The comparison helps in displaying situation that other people experience elsewhere. It shows the seriousness of the situation. The audience imagines that there are girls, just like them, who are not as lucky as them. The emotional effect of this is that the girls in the audience will most likely take their fortunate situation more seriously. They will appreciate their education, and most likely will improve in their academics.

Michelle Obama, in her speech, gives the example of the congress population in Spain and America to motivate the girls. Before providing the example, she states the different ways women empowerment has been of benefit. She talks about a decrease in gender discrimination and an increase in the number of women in universities. The examples are from Spain an America. On giving an example, she wanted to appeal emotionally to the audience to take action and also support those, who have not yet achieved such progress. In some countries in Africa, such as Morocco, women do not get a fair chance to hold political offices (Ennaji, Moha). The speech is there for motivation for them to have a say in politics with equal power as men.

In her speech, she says that the gender inequalities affect men also, as much as it affects women. Michelle Obama bases her reasoning on the fact that, men also want daughters. The inclusion of men as victims has an emotional appeal to them. It shows that female discrimination has no boundaries. When a young man, who wants a family, thinks of their daughter as a victim of gender discrimination, they are likely not to take part in the bias. No one would like to see their daughters fail to achieve their dreams just because someone discriminated them by gender. The emotional appeal captures the emotions of the victimizers because they will think of their small daughters or other family members.

Overall, the speech on letting girls have an education captures our emotions very well. The numerous examples of young girls in Africa, who are denied an education for merely being females, are worrying. Women should be on the frontline of advocating for these girls to have their fair share. The uneducated girl, who becomes a mother, is likely to put her children in danger. She will not know the vaccines to give her children. Women are also naturally caring. If a woman is educated, chances are they will look after the rest of the society. It is time for the world rise to overcome gender discrimination. Every girl in the world deserves a chance to quality education.

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  1. Ennaji, Moha. “Women, Gender, And Politics in Morocco.” Social Sciences, vol 5, no. 4, 2016, p. 75. MDPI AG, doi:10.3390/socsci5040075.
  2. McCormack, Krista C. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos: The benefits of Aristotelian rhetoric in the courtroom. 2014, http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1107&context=law_jurisprudence
  3. Stockwood, David, David E. Spiro, and Jeffrey S. Leon. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Toronto: Irwin Law, 2015.
  4. Whitehouse.gov. “Remarks by The First Lady at Let Girls Learn Event in Madrid, Spain.” Whitehouse.Gov, 2016, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/30/remarks-first-lady-let-girls-learn-event-madrid-spain.
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