Michelle Obama

LET GIRLS LEARN: Some 65 magazine titles have donated advertising space to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn program, a U.S. government initiative launched by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in March 2015 to expand access to education for adolescent girls worldwide.

Eleven companies, members of the MPA — The Association of Magazine Media, are running public service announcements in their magazines’ fall issues. They include Hearst, Condé Nast, Meredith, Forbes Media, National Geographic, Rodale and Time Inc. The PSA campaign, which coincides with the International Day of the Girl Child Oct. 11, is expected to reach more than 60 percent of adults.

“Magazines are still the best vehicle to tell a detailed long story, to really go in-depth and paint a picture,” Michelle Obama said last February, when she participated in a panel discussion, “Media With Purpose,” at the American Magazine Media Conference in New York. “And when we launched Let Girls Learn, it was important for us to make sure that people understood the issue and that we could engage readers to take action.”

Globally, more than 62 million girls are not in school — half of whom are adolescents. It is known that when girls are empowered with an education they will delay marriage, have fewer children, earn a higher income and are more likely to invest in their families and communities. When girls gain skills, knowledge and confidence, they break the cycle of poverty and help strengthen societies. A key part of Let Girls Learn is to encourage and support community-led solutions to reduce barriers that prevent adolescent girls from completing their education.

The PSAs, which feature three different girls, carry the headlines, “I am six times less likely to become a child bride,” “My income will increase 20 percent with every year I stay in school,” and “My children will be 50 percent more likely to survive infancy.” They carry the tag line: “Educate Girls, Change the World.” This is the largest donation of member advertising space in MPA’s history.

Linda Thomas Brooks, president and ceo of the MPA,  said, “Public service has long been a part of magazines’ DNA.” She said she was pleased that their member brands stepped up in such an impactful way. “We hope this campaign inspires reads to support Let Girls Learn,” she said.

In addition to the MPA donation, White House officials unveiled Tuesday new commitments for Let Girls Learn totaling $5 million for educating young women. The new pledges from the private sector include $2.5 million from RISE UP’s program to enable girls to finish school and delay early marriage in Malawi; a $1 million donation by Newman’s Own Foundation to support both Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund and the Kibera School for Girls in Kenya, and $500,000 from the Central Asia Institute for services for girls in Afghanistan. Combined with previous funding, Tuesday’s commitments means that in the  year and a half since launching, Let Girls Learn has generated more than $1 billion in support for federal programs to educate girls in 50 nations around the world.

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