radio and internet address to the nation, the First Lady invoked th
e story of Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousufzai and said what happened in Nigeria was not an isolated incident.
It is a story seen every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions, she said. She called on nations around the globe to fight to ensure that every girl receives the education that is her birthright.
“It’s the story of girls like Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan. Malala spoke out for girls’ education in her community…And as a result, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while on a school bus with her classmates.”
“But fortunately Malala survived…And when I met her last year, I could feel her passion and determination as she told me that girls’ education is still her life’s mission,” the First Lady said in her rare weekly address to the nation on the occasion of Mother’s Day.
Michelle quoted Malala as saying in her address to the United Nations, “the terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
“The courage and hope embodied by Malala and girls like her around the world should serve as a call to action,” Michelle said.
“Because right now, more than 65 million girls worldwide are not in school. Yet, we know that girls who are educated make higher wages, lead healthier lives, and have healthier families. And when more girls attend secondary school, that boosts their country’s entire economy,” she said.
The First Lady stressed that education is truly a girl’s best chance for a bright future, not just for herself, but for her family and her nation.
“And that’s true right here in the US as well…So I hope the story of these Nigerian girls will serve as an inspiration for every girl and boy in this country,” she said.
“I hope that any young people in America who take school for granted any young people who are slacking off or thinking of dropping out I hope they will learn the story of these girls and recommit themselves to their education,” the First Lady said.
Michelle asserted that girls embody the best hope for the future of the world.
“We are committed to standing up for them not just in times of tragedy or crisis, but for the long haul,” she said.
The First Lady said she and US President Obama “are outraged and heartbroken” over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls by the Boko Haram militant group.
“This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls,” Michelle said.
“And I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to find these girls and bring them home,” she said.
“In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now. Many of them may have been hesitant to send their daughters off to school, fearing that harm might come their way,” Michelle added.
They took that risk because they believed in their daughters’ promise and wanted to give them every opportunity to succeed, she said.
“The girls themselves also knew full well the dangers they might encounter. Their school had recently been closed due to terrorist threats…But these girls still insisted on returning to take their exams,” the First Lady said.