CNN had an interesting story this morning on the impact of our first lady, Michelle Obama on women around the world. Briefly it stated that simply by being who she is, she is inspiring women around the world who are seeing a dark-skinned woman and the mother of daughters being treated as an equal by her husband. So much has been written about her sense of style, her warmth, her focus on her family, etc. But this is the first that I’ve read about how women around the world are seeing her as a role model.
Heather Ferreira, who works with the residents of the Mumbai slums, stated that women with dark skin and no sons are looked down upon and that she believes Michelle was able to send a different message to these women. The message that a woman can be valued regardless of the color of her skin and the gender of her children needs to be transmitted as widely as possible.
Women of color in the U.S. were also interviewed and they stated that they really liked seeing themselves represented in the First Lady. They see a woman born into a modest family who worked and studied her way to a better future. They see a woman in a relationship that is respectful and equal. They see a woman who is devoted to her family and who talks openly about her struggle to balance a career with the needs of her family. They see a woman who is not afraid to speak her mind and who stands by her beliefs. They see a woman who takes care of herself. They also see someone who is recharging the dialogue around a woman’s role and her position both within her family and in society.
As a woman, I think it is important that women and daughters around the world have a well-educated, well-spoken, strong, independent woman in a healthy and respectful relationship juggling work and motherhood as a role model. I know that Michelle Obama certainly speaks to me and my reality as a wife, mother, daughter, aunt and business professional.