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article imageMichelle Obama calls for gender equality in education

By Nicole Weddington     Oct 1, 2014 in World
Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, spoke out about the inequalities that women and girls must face while giving the keynote speech at a global forum on education.
Obama, one of several high-profile speakers at the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) forum, said that although tremendous progress has been made in female education, especially in getting younger children into primary school, the attitudes toward education for adolescent girls must change, as well.
“Girls around the world deserve so much better. They do. They are so eager to learn. And so many of them are sacrificing so much just for the chance to get an education,” Mrs. Obama said in her speech. “I’m thinking about girls like Malala. I’m thinking about those brave girls in Nigeria. I’m thinking about all the girls who will never make the headlines who walk hours to school each day, who study late into the night because they are so hungry to fill every last bit of their God-given potential.”
Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai survived being shot in the head after the Taliban attacked her for campaigning for girl’s education. The radical Islamist militant group Boko Haram has kidnapped almost 300 Nigerian schoolgirls over the last year.
In addition to speaking about educational inequality for girls, Mrs. Obama spoke out for changes in the way that girls and women are seen and treated. “Addressing gender-based violence in all of its forms, from domestic violence to genital cutting to early, enforced marriages, all of that needs to be on the agenda too,” she added.
Gordon Brown, former British prime minister and current UN special envoy for global education, also spoke at the GEFI forum, calling for $6 billion in funding for universal primary school education. He believes some of this money should go towards subjects in which women are underrepresented, such as help with physics programes. In addition to the funding, Brown added that education reform will not be possible until leaders could find a way to end child marriage, trafficking and labor.
"We must give these parents hope. It's not just Bring Back Our Girls. We must bring back our concern for our girls. We must bring back the international campaign for our girls," he said.
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