TIME White House

Michelle Obama on Nigerian Schoolgirls: ‘Barack and I See Our Own Daughters’

First Lady says U.S. is doing "everything possible" to free kidnapped girls.

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke out against the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls last month in the White House’s weekly address marking Mother’s Day.

Delivering the address for the first time without President Barack Obama, the first lady said she and her husband are “outraged and heartbroken” by the kidnappings. “In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters,” she said. “We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”

“I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to find these girls and bring them home,” she said, as a team of military and intelligence advisors deployed by the administration to assist the Nigerian government began arriving in Abuja.

“This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education—grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls,” she said.

Obama tied the kidnappings to a broader struggle to give girls access to the education they deserve, highlighting the plight of 65 million girls who are not attending school across the globe.

“We know that girls who are educated make higher wages, lead healthier lives and have healthier families,” the first lady said. “And when more girls attend secondary school, that boosts their country’s entire economy. So education is truly a girl’s best chance for a bright future, not just for herself, but for her family and her nation.”

“I hope that any young people in America who take school for granted—any young people who are slacking off or thinking of dropping out—I hope they will learn the story of these girls and recommit themselves to their education,” she added.

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