REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY AT UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN YOUTH EVENT|University of Cape Town – Fuller Hall Cape Town, South Africa

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    fortunately, for a term or two.

    So no matter what, it’s short-lived.  So how will I feel — my husband and I, we talk about how will we feel when it’s time to leave?  We’ll be fine leaving, but what will we have left, right?  And will we feel like this was worth it?  Everybody who voted, and looked up — you know, will you guys — I think about that.  When I leave here, I think about, was this worth it for you?  Is this going to matter?

    So I guess, yeah, there’s a little pressure because this is an opportunity that you can’t waste.  And I think some of that is the practice, because I felt that way when I was seven, probably.  I see it in my kids, that sort of — the practice of wanting to be excellent at what you do.

    So there probably is a little pressure.  There’s probably a little bit.  (Laughter.)

    DR. RAMPHELE:  I think a little pressure is very good for all of us.

    Zandile from LEAP school.

    Q    When choosing careers, we are — whether — live in a society where mostly men choose science careers.  So how do you as a female make sure that your voice is heard?

    MRS. OBAMA:  We talked about this a lot yesterday with — you know.  It was funny — not funny — the forum yesterday — the young women that were there — so powerful, so vocal.  I didn’t have to say a word.  I listened.  I was like, that’s so rare; it’s good.

    But I think the answer to that, for women, is, first of all, to use your voice.  Use it.  Again, there’s no magic to it.  You just have to decide, as a woman, as a young woman, that my voice is actually important.

    And I think sometimes we as women are trained to, you know, just sort of be a little more quiet.  We’re going to let these sort of men talk and talk.  Sometimes they don’t know what they’re talking about.  (Laughter.)

    But I think women, we check ourselves more.  We’re more inclined to wait a second; and maybe I shouldn’t say it because I don’t know it’s 100 percent right; maybe I won’t do it because I might fail; maybe I shouldn’t compete because competing isn’t polite.

    There are a lot of things that we’re just taught that keep us from using our voice.  So to break that habit, you just have to start using it, right, and it’s as small as when you are in class, ask a question, no matter what.  Just open your mouth.  Don’t be afraid to be wrong.

    I tell my girls this all the time, because I know that that’s part of my issue as a — I don’t want to be wrong; what if I get it wrong; what if I embarrass myself?

    Boys, you guys don’t really care.  You do boneheaded things all the time — (laughter) — and seem to recover from it, and you practice it, so you get good at it.  It’s like, yeah.  You know, Sasha is like that.  She talks about boys in the — “Why do they keep talking?  Why don’t they listen?” — because they can stumble a little bit, and you guys compete, and you’re used to, you know.

    I think young girls have to start practicing, just actually using your voices, and asking for help, and stepping up, and pushing a little bit to the front, and not waiting for somebody to tell you that it’s okay.

    DR. RAMPHELE:  Well, you’ve got it.  You’ve got it.

    Vuyolwethu from Cape Academy.  What’s your question, my dear?

    Q    Thank you, ma’am.  Mrs. Obama, one of your most vital elements of your visit is youth leadership and development.  My question to you is, how vital of a role do you think the youth of any nation contributes to its

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