US First Lady Michelle Obama came to Tower Hamlets on Tuesday to push her campaign to boost education for adolescent girls. She told her audience: "The world needs girls like you."
She was greeted by cheering pupils at Mulberry School for Girls where she discussed joint work between the two nations to boost her Let Girls Learn initiative, championed by her and her husband, US president Barack Obama.
Addressing a packed hall she told the girls it was the trials and tribulations they face could help to make them great.
"Resilience and the ability to overcome obstacles is success. Take those challenges you are facing and own them. With every challenge you overcome, you are becoming better.
"Don't just be book-smart, be smart about the world - know your community, know your politics.
"You have to be informed and engaged all the time - not just when you think it is interesting or cool. As young women we have to be interested in politics. You have to think about your whole education."
She added: "With an education from this amazing school you all have every chance you need to rise above the noise and fulfil every one of your dreams."
Despite facing Islamophobia and poverty, 83% of the students from the Tower Hamlets school, including many from ethnic minorities, manage to secure a place at university.
The First Lady said: "The world needs more girls like you to lead our parliaments, our boardrooms and our universities. We need you for tackling the problems of climate change, poverty and disadvantage."
Mrs Obama told the girls she could understand how it feels to be "lost in the shuffle" and that she never would have believed she would one day be the First Lady of the US.
She also told them it can be difficult to feel comfortable when people are saying things about your religion and you have to face those who need to "see beyond the headscarf".
Mrs Obama wrote an article in the Financial Times in which she cited figures suggesting more than 62million girls were out of school across the world, which she described as “a heartbreaking injustice”.
Girls faced obstacles to education such as forced marriages, early pregnancies, abuse and sexism, she said.
“That kind of life is unthinkable for the girls in our lives, so why would we accept this fate for any girl on this planet?” she wrote in the Financial Times.
“This week I will join Prime Minister David Cameron in London to begin to answer that question, and announce a series of partnerships between the US and UK to educate adolescent girls in developing countries around the world.”
She praised the UK as a “global leader” for girls’ education and said one joint scheme included a 180 million dollar (£116m) investment in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
She added: “In addition, our development agencies and two of countries’ leading universities will collaborate on evidence-based research to determine the best ways to educate adolescent girls.
"And British and American partners will work together to support teacher training, girls’ leadership camps, and other community-based programmes in developing countries.
“Combined, these efforts total nearly 200million dollars (£128million) – but, given the scope of this challenge, even that is nowhere near sufficient. Girls’ education is a global issue that requires a global solution.”