First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the White House weekly address on Saturday, in honor of Mother’s Day, to continue bringing attention to the nearly 300 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria on April 15.
The weekly address, usually given by President Obama, is the first such solo address given by the First Lady.
“As the mother of two young daughters, Mrs. Obama is taking the opportunity to express outrage and heartbreak the President and she share over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school,” Eric Shultz, a White House spokesman told CNN on Friday.
In her remarks, the first lady focused on the drive and courage the Nigerian girls demonstrated in continuing to attend school, despite prior threats against them.
“They were so determined to move to the next level of their education … so determined to one day build careers of their own and make their families and communities proud," she said. "And what happened in Nigeria was not an isolated incident … it’s a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions. It’s the story of girls like Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan,” she continued, invoking the name of the teenage blogger who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for women's education.
Mrs. Obama continued by stressing the importance of the issue, citing that “girls who are educated make higher wages, lead healthier lives, and have healthier families.”
The First Lady ended her remarks by asking that the nation "pray for their safe return" and to continue fighting for girls' right to education.
On April 15, 276 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by the fundamentalist Islamic group Boko Haram, which later vowed to "sell them in the marketplace."
The world was largely silent initially, as other events like the South Korean ferry disaster and the missing Malaysia Airlines plane dominated headlines. By April 23, however, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls appeared and was subsequently tweeted by countless celebrities, politicians and other notable figures, including the first lady.
The U.S. has since agreed to help find the missing girls and sent a team to the embassy in Abuja to provide military and intelligence assistance. On Friday, a report from Amnesty International indicated that Nigerian security forces knew about the kidnapping before it happened, but failed to take action.
The full address by the First Lady is available here.
Tags: Barack Obama