The White House
Office of the First Lady
Remarks by the First Lady at Girls International Education Roundtable
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
11:02 A.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Well, I want to thank you all for taking the time to come. This is -- it couldn’t be better timing for worse reasons. 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.
And 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.
So one of the reasons why we chose Reach Higher as a domestic issue to focus on education of young people here in the United States is because it’s an issue that we can connect internationally.
Now, one of the things I tell kids here in the United States is, I want to see them in their seats, in class. Because every child in America has a school to go to, but that’s not the case around the world. There are so many -- so there’s a twofold thing that we need to do -- we need to inspire kids here in the United States to really utilize and understand the privileges that they have here, and not to take it for granted. But we really do need to lift up this issue and figure out from experts like you how we can strategically change the lives for younger girls, particularly adolescents. People need to understand what these issues are, and they need to know what we need to be doing as a global community to support these young girls.
So Tina is here because it is an important issue to us. 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. (Laughter.) I consider myself young enough --
PARTICIPANT: We don’t doubt that, but we’re going to be here long. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: But I am here to listen. And I know that you all have already been talking about some of the issues, so I just want to -- I want to hear what you all are thinking, how someone like me can use my platform effectively to really add value to this issue, and how do we educate the world in a better way and then do something.
11:05 A.M. EDT