Speaking elegantly and passionately, First Lady Michelle Obama recently used President Obama’s Weekly Address as a platform to deliver a heartfelt speech about the tragic kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian girls.
It is the first such solo address she has given, and for such a great cause.
Last month, the terrorist Islamist group Boko Haram stole the girls out of their school dormitories in the middle of the night. The terrorists are well known for kidnapping, but this massive scale style is new.
Calling attention to herself as the mother of two young girls, Mrs. Obama’s speech urged the public to recognize the severity of the crimes in Nigeria, and assured the public of her husband’s dedication to supporting the Nigerian government however needed. Moreover, the First Lady took time to demonstrate how the girls were assailed while taking a stand for their own educations. The school had received terrorist threats, but the students had chosen to return to school in the hopes of taking their exams and continuing their studies. Mrs. Obama said,“They were so determined to move to the next level of their education … so determined to one day build careers of their own and make their families and communities proud”.
And, as she then pointed out, this is not an isolated incident. Girls around the world have had to fight for their right to attend school many times, and some have also been subjected to violence for their cause. Mrs. Obama cites Malala Yousafazi of Pakistan who was shot in the head when she spoke up about the need for her government to provide more support for female education. But she survived, and continues to fight for her platform. The First Lady noted proudly that when she met Malala last year she could “feel her passion and determination”. And these crimes do not only take place across the globe either. In 1989, an enraged gunman entered a university in Montreal, Quebec and murdered fourteen female engineer students, and ten more were injured. He had separated the male students and yelled out that he was fighting feminism.
The First Lady made clear in her public address that these girls, who fight for (and sometimes die for) their right to study should serve as examples to young people everywhere. She said “education is truly a girl’s best chance for a bright future, not just for herself, but for her family and her nation.” She brought her speech to a close by asking us to keep the families of the Nigerian girls in our hearts, and hope for their safe returns.
What really shone throughout her address was Mrs. Obama’s maternal connection to the circumstances. It clearly has an emotional impact her. Eric Schultz, a spokesperson for the White House told CNN,“As the mother of two young daughters, Mrs. Obama is taking the opportunity to express outrage and heartbreak the President and she share over the kidnapping”.
The tragedy has sparked much public concern and many other celebs have been participating in a Twitter campaign to raise awareness. The Bring Back Our Girls campaign involves tweeting a picture holding up a sign that reads “#Bring Back Our Girls”. Mrs. Obama recently joined the campaign, alongside others such as Angelina Jolie, Mary J. Blige, and many more.