First lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey have a discussion on Trailblazing the Path for the Next Generation of Women during the White House Summit on the United State of Women in Washington, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The first-ever United State of Women Summit, not only brought together the Obama administration, private-sector companies, foundations and organizations to announce $50 million in commitments and new policies to expand opportunities for the nation’s women and girls, it also offered a rare opportunity for women leaders across the world to encourage and partner with each other.

Entering the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey broadened the day-long discussion of gender pay, student, and media equity, to also include tools, particularly for Black women, to develop improved self-value. According to Winfrey, not only is those issues exacerbated by the media, but also hindered by thoughts women and girls have about who they are and what expectations are beyond their reach.

“The root of every dysfunction I have encountered or the root of every problem is some sense of lacking self-value or self-worth,” Winfrey told the thousands of women gathered for the talk.  “We live in a world where we are constantly being bombarded by images that encourage you to be light, literally, and it is a lot to live up to. The pressure of other people’s expectations is great.”

Winfrey said that retooling those inner voices becomes the capstone to many of the initiatives affirmed during the conference, including more than $3 million from the Department of Justice, through its Office on Violence on Women (OVW), to prevent domestic violence homicides.

It is the commitment each woman and girl makes to herself, Obama said, that helps that fight against social and economic insecurity.

“Our first job in life, as women, is to get to know ourselves.   A lot of times we don’t do that and we spend a lot of time pleasing and satisfying others and looking out into the world to define who we are.  We are listening to the very limited messages, seeing limited images, and utilizing limited definitions of who we are,” Obama said.  “This is true for women of color and there is a limited box we are put in, but it takes taking the time to know who you are, to deal with the onslaught.”

Obama said that she came into the public-political arena with a clear sense of who she was, having grown up with a caring father and a strong and focused mother.  Prodded by Oprah and audience members to explain her ability to sidestep the many racist, sexist, and xenophobic comments made publicly about her as a sitting First Lady, Obama insisted that her endurance came from remaining true to herself and family no matter the situation.

“I tried not to limit myself by expectations and as First Lady, I wanted to define the role for myself very uniquely and differently.  Remember Malia and Sasha were very little girls when we got here.  I knew my first job was to make sure my girls were going to be whole, and normal and cared for in the midst of all the craziness, Obama said.  “If I was going to protect them, I had to protect myself and my time.  I didn’t want to waste any time.  If you do not take control of your life and your time, others will gobble it up.  You fall lower and lower on your list of priorities.”

The United State of Women brought together thousands of women and girls from across the globe to hear sessions hosted by women leaders in business, education, entertainment, policymaking, and advocacy to encourage diversity, equity, and access.  In addition to Winfrey and the First Lady, the day-long conference saw active participation from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Shonda Rhimes, and Connie Britton.