Michelle Obama Asks Young African Leaders To Empower Females
First Lady Michelle Obama didn’t hold back Wednesday, at times admonishing countries where violence against women is prevalent and acceptable while addressing a group of young African leaders and innovators in Washington, D.C., prior to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, CNN reports.
“While I have great respect for cultural differences, I think we can all agree that practices like genital cutting, forced child marriage, domestic violence are not legitimate cultural practices, they are serious human rights violations and have no place in any country on this Earth,” she said.
Obama said during the talk that the conversation was deeply personal to her.
“The roots of my family tree are in Africa,” she said on an Associated Press video. “As you know my husband’s father was born and raised in Kenya. Members of our extended family still live there. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to Africa a number of times over the years including four trips as first lady and I’ve brought my mother and daughters with me whenever I can so believe me, the blood of Africa runs through my veins and I care deeply about Africa.”
Obama advocated for female empowerment through education.
“I imagine that for some of you here today, getting your degree might have meant disobeying or disappointing your families,” she said, specifically addressing the girls in the room, CNN reports.
“Maybe while you’ve been acing your studies and thriving in your career, you have a grandmother who has been wringing her hands because you’re not yet married. But, my sisters, you all are here today because you have found a way to overcome these challenges, and you have blossomed into powerful, accomplished women. And we need you all to help others do the same.”
Obama called for global action to lift all women from oppression, saying a nation cannot succeed without first investing in its young girls and women.