The abduction of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls was an an “unconscionable act,” first lady Michelle Obama said Saturday, taking her husband’s place in the White House weekly address. The first lady also highlighted the plight of girls worldwide seeking to improve their station through education despite cultural and economic obstacles.
Describing herself and the president as “outraged and heartbroken” over the kidnappings, she said she sees the hopes and dreams of their own daughters in the missing schoolgirls. Obama offered assurances that the United States is offering “everything possible” to support the Nigerian government in finding the girls.
The first lady went on to salute the bravery of the girls for having made the effort to go to school in the first place under dangerous conditions. She commended their parents for recognizing the value of an education against the risk of harm the girls might face.
Broadening to a global scope, Obama cited the case of Malala Yousafza, a Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while on a school bus. Yousafza’s dedication to education and exposing the obstacles girls face has brought her world-wide fame. Obama read an excerpt from her address to the UN:
“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.”
Again hailing the courage of students who strive against difficult circumstances, Obama relayed that 65 million girls worldwide do not go to school, and encouraged American students to take inspiration from the lengths some of their global peers have to go to for an education and not squander the opportunities America’s school system affords them.
A number of marches were planned for Saturday in major cities across the U.S. as part of the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign to raise awareness about the kidnappings. including Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco and Orlando.