Former US first lady Michelle Obama spoke about education and equality for girls and women at a fireside chat hosted by the Economic Club of Canada and Plan International Canada on Tuesday.

Obama’s talk, "The Economics of Equality: Advancing Women and Girls to Change the World" had 1,500 tickets reserved for girls and women who could apply for them on Plan International Canada's website, according to blogTO.

"The one thing I really didn't want to happen was to have a bunch of Bay Street corporate leaders only bringing their children," Traill told CBC earlier this month. "I don't think that that's inclusive and I don't think that that's fully the conversation that we need to have."

Take Action: Ask Governments and Corporations to Support Girls' Education

Obama took the stage at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre in front of an excited crowd.

She first spoke about the importance of owning your own story and mistakes, knowing that success doesn’t come from not making mistakes, but from learning from them, according to live tweets from the event.

“You can’t make yourself feel small because other people don’t know how to feel big,” she said.

Obama reflected on her time in politics and offered insight on how to create change.

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“One person can’t make the change. It happens from the bottom up, not the top down. That’s a good thing,” she said, “It means no one person can’t break all this either.”

She urged the crowd to use social media less, to think about words carefully and to have more conversations.

Obama believes that education has not kept up with changing times and that this particularly affects girls.

“If you don’t understand something in class it means they need to teach better,” she said. “You have to be your own education advocate.”

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The conversation touched on racism, too.

“When someone attacks me I think, ‘What is going on in their lives that they fear me?’ They may not understand the fight for equality is a fight for them too,” Obama said.

Echoing Justin Trudeau’s words from the weekend, Obama said that men and boys need to do better and be better.

“The question for men is, ‘What have you done lately? How have you made space in your position of power, where are you in this?’” she said.

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The advocate finished by reminding today’s youth that they are important — and essential in fighting for equality.

“Never lose hope. The world needs you desperately. Never give up,” she said.

Global Citizen campaigns on issues related to gender equality. You can take action here.


Demand Equity

Michelle Obama Just Gave Young People This Key Piece of Advice in the Fight for Equality

By Jackie Marchildon