First Lady Michelle Obama has a message for young women everywhere — and she knows exactly how to be heard loudly and clearly. The first lady recruited the likes of Missy Elliot, Janelle Monáe, Zendaya, Kelly Rowland, Kelly Clarkson, and Lea Michele for her latest endeavor: A radio-friendly power anthem by and for women.
"This Is For My Girls," released on Wednesday at midnight, was penned by Grammy-winning legend Diane Warren. The upbeat track is all about female empowerment, something close to the first lady's heart. The song — executive produced by AOL MAKERS and MAKERS.com, an online platform that tells women's stories through video — was inspired by Let Girls Learn, Mrs. Obama's own initiative. A collaboration between the first lady and the Peace Corps, Let Girls Learn is aimed at increasing girls' education rates worldwide by empowering local communities to get their young women into the classroom. Let Girls Learn reports that there are more than 60 million girls around the world who are not in school.
That theme is built into the pump-up song's chorus: "This is for my girls, all around the world / Stand up, pull your head up / Don't take nothing from nobody..." The rest of the lyrics echo that "girls rock" attitude, calling on women to stay true to themselves and remain strong. "You're someone who can be soft as silk but strong as steel / Don't shy away from showing what you're made of / This world is yours to take, you can bend but you won't break." Near the end, Missy Elliot has a fierce rap.
This morning at SXSW, Mrs. Obama gave a keynote speech at the Austin festival. She spoke movingly about Let Girls Learn, as well as her and the president's dedication to equality for women. Queen Latifah, Sophia Bush, Missy Elliot, and Diane Warren were there to participate in a panel discussion, as well.
The first lady went about sharing her message of girls' empowerment to the younger generations in just the right way. By connecting with strong female pop stars that young women look up to and admire, Mrs. Obama is amplifying that message — bringing it to ears that might not have listened or cared otherwise. And the music artists she recruited are more than just recognizable faces (and voices) — they're behind the cause in a genuine way, too. "It was especially meaningful for me to be part of this song and initiative," explains Janelle Monáe, "because I have immense gratitude for the education I received and continue to receive. I also have immense gratitude for my family and friends who challenge me to learn every day." She adds, "There are 62 million girls around the world who don’t have that support, this song is for them." This is, indeed, for our girls.