Michelle Obama says kidnappings in Nigeria underscore difficulties worldwide for girls’ education

05/22/2014 3:29 PM

05/22/2014 3:43 PM

WASHINGTON First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday spoke again about the 270 girls kidnapped in Nigeria by the extremist group Boko Haram.

“What has been going on in Nigeria is a tragic reminder of the challenges that young girls all over the world face in trying to get an education,” she said during a meeting with international education experts who held a roundtable at the White House.

The U.S. military deployed 80 troops to neighboring Chad to help search for the girls, who were kidnapped from their school on April 14. U.S. officials believe the militants have divided the girls into smaller groups and hidden them in the forests of northeastern Nigeria. (See story here.)

“Now that we have a bit of the world’s attention on this issue, we have to seize upon the moment to take the opportunity to really push to make some significant changes. Because right now, today, there are millions and millions of girls around the world who are not in school. And it’s not because they don’t want to be in school. It’s because they don’t have the opportunities to be in school, and if they are in school, many of them are doing it and they’re putting their lives at risk. And we all know -- you all are the experts -- that countries are stronger when their women and girls are educated,” the first lady said.

“We need to inspire kids here in the United States to really utilize and understand the privileges they have here” and also help girls globally, she said, adding, “It’s going to be something that I work on not just for the next few years here in the White House, but long after.”

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