If Michelle Obama’s launch of the Let Girls Learn initiative didn’t already clue you in, the former First Lady is a massive girl power advocate. Her fight to ensure that young girls everywhere are able to harness their right to an education has brought relief and opportunity to the lives of so many young girls across the globe.
In a recent interview with Refinery 29, Obama spoke to girls from four different parts of the world about the power of education. One interview paired the political figurehead and education advocate with a Guatemalan teen who has gained attention for her work in her community.
Obama chatted with 16-year-old activist, Alejandra Teleguario Santizo from Guatemala fighting to stop sexual violence and street harassment in her neighborhood.
During the Q&A session, Obama and Santizo asked each other questions about education and culture. Santizo used one of her questions to request Obama for some of her direct insight. “What advice do you have for girl leaders like me?” Santizo asked.
In response, Obama emphasized the cruciality of being fearless in the face of failure. “We think we have to be perfect, that if we make even the tiniest mistake, it’s a catastrophe,” Obama emphasized. “In fact, the only way you succeed in life is by failing and failing well. And by that I mean you cannot let your failures eat you up or make you want to quit. You have to learn from them, let them challenge and inspire you to do more.”
The former First Lady concluded her answer to Santizo’s request for advice to young girls with an emphasis on supporting girl power.
“I also advise girls to be supportive of each other. I cannot say this enough,” Obama said. “Too often we’re taught that we have to compete, or that someone else’s failure is our success. But we can all rise together; we can all win. We have to be a team of women and girls who love each other and value each other and cherish one another. Because if we don’t cherish each other, no one else will. So let’s start there. Go out and find a way to lift up some other girl in your life. Maybe it’s a little sister, a classmate, or a neighbor. You can be a mentor right now, today.”