Michelle Obama’s Advice to Men at United State of Women Summit: ‘Be Better’

By Sameer Rao Jun 15, 2016

The White House announced the The United State of Women Summit with a star-studded video addressing the importance of gender equity. Many of those women attended the convening yesterday (June 14) for a series of workshops and talks about the progress made by—and challenges facing—women in America.

The main event featured First Lady Michelle Obama in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. Both women spoke at length on a many topics relating primarily to the First Lady’s life. For instance, she offered this advice to male attendees:

Be better. Be better at everything. Be better fathers. Good Lord, just being good fathers who love your daughters and are providing a solid example of what it means to be a good man in the world, showing them what it feels like to be loved. That is the greatest gift that the men in my life gave to me. And we’ve talked about this—the fact that I never experienced abuse at the hands of any man in my life. And that’s sad to say that that’s a rare reality.  So men can be better at that. Men can be better husbands, which is—be a part of your family’s life. Do the dishes. Don’t babysit your children. You don’t babysit your own children. Be engaged. Don’t just think going to work and coming home makes you a man. Being a father, being engaged, all that stuff is important. Be a better employer. When you are sitting at a seat of power at a table of any kind and you look around you just see you, it’s just you and a bunch of men around a table, on a golf course, making deals, and you allow that to happen, and you’re okay with that—be better.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch also spoke at the event, highlighting the predominantly Latinx victims of the Pulse massacre the preceding weekend: 

But as we focus on our response to this terrorist attack, let us not lose sight of who the victims were. As President Obama has said, this was an act of terror and it was an act of hate. It targeted a gay club during a Latin night and the individuals who were injured and killed were members and friends of the LGBT community—many of them Latino. These were men and women—many of them young people—who went to a club to enjoy their evening, to spend time with friends and to celebrate Pride Month in a place where they could be themselves, where they could breathe freely and where they could feel safe. Everyone needs a place of safety.

The summit focused on five key areas: economic empowerment, health and wellness, educational opportunity, violence against women, entrepreneurship and innovation, and leadership and civic engagement. Other speakers included Kerry Washington, Shonda Rimes, Beverly Bond and Valerie Jarrett. Click here for the full list of speakers.