Michelle Obama: 'Until we prioritise our girls, we won't tackle those other problems'
Michelle Obama delivered an empowering address to the spouses of African leaders at the US-Africa Leaders Summit
Thursday 07 August 2014
Speaking as part of the spousal programme of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, Michelle Obama emphasised the need to prioritise women’s rights issues above other major concerns such as famine and disease. She believes the first step in effecting change lies in a global attitude shift in how women and girls are valued.
“Until we value women and girls, we won't tackle those other problems. Until we prioritise our girls and understand that they are as important and that their education is as important as the education of our sons, then we will have lots of work to do," said the First Lady.
Michelle Obama was joined by former First Lady Laura Bush, who seconded her opinion. "Only countries where all people are involved can be successful," said Mrs Bush.
"When we look around the world and see countries where half of the population is marginalised or left out, then we usually see countries that are failing."
Whilst president Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent in a bid to strengthen ties with the region, the First Lady and her predecessor were confined to speaking to the largely female spouses of the visiting heads of state. However, both women expressed their belief that the position of First Lady is that of a leader in her own right, and encouraged the spouses attending the summit to embrace the platform they have been given.
Obama urged her audience not to “waste” their time in “this spotlight. It is temporary, life is short, and change is needed”. Jokingly, she added: “And women are smarter than men”, which was received with laughter and applause.
Laura Bush has previously hinted that the role of first spouse in the United States may radically change if a woman were to become president; questioning whether a man would stop working “as a lawyer, or whatever” in the event of his wife being elected.
The spousal programme of the US-African Leaders Summit was co-sponsored by the Bush Institute, and brought Obama and Bush on stage together for the second time. Last year they both addressed the wives of African leaders in Tanzania, where they expressed the difficulty of discussing important topics when the media is focusing on their hairstyles.
Michelle Obama’s message to the spouses of Africa’s leaders is a clear one: "We have to fight for our girls." The rest will follow.
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nathan Cirillo: Final pictures emerge of soldier moments before he was shot dead by Ottowa gunman
Ottawa shootings: Terror strikes Canadian capital as attacks leave one soldier and one suspect dead
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large organisa...
£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: English Teacher Required for Oct...
£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you qualified Mandarin Teache...
£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...