First lady Michelle Obama visited a leadership camp for girls in Liberia to launch her latest Africa visit Monday, urging the teens in one of the world’s poorest countries to keep fighting to stay in school.
With her own teenage daughters joining her, Obama told the girls she was “just so thrilled to be here with you.”
“I’m here to shine a big bright light on you,” she said.
Education for girls is the central theme of the first lady’s trip, which also includes stops in Morocco and Spain. She was welcomed on her arrival in Liberia with a red carpet and traditional dancers.
In connection with the first lady’s visit, USAID announced up to $27 million in funding in Liberia programming for Let Girls Learn, an initiative launched by Mrs. Obama and President Barack Obama last year.
The first lady is traveling with her mother and daughters Malia, 17, who recently graduated from high school, and Sasha, 15.
The bustling city of Kakata and the much less animated Unification Town (commonly known as Smell-No-Taste), both in Margibi County, will today be honored with a visit from U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, her daughters Malia and Sashsa, and their delegation.
As part of their three-nation tour to promote girls’ education the American first lady will meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and have a discussion with local teenage girls, moderated by actress Freida Pinto.
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) is welcomed by Peace Corp teachers and students
The recent Ebola outbreak in Liberia created even more challenges for girls’ education in the country, where just one-third of girls are enrolled in secondary education. Liberia ranked second only to South Sudan in the share of primary school-age girls who aren’t enrolled in school, a global report by UNESCO said earlier this year, the Associated Press reported.
As part of Let Girls Learn, the First Lady – joined by Malia and Sasha Obama and Mrs. Marian Robinson – will visit a Peace Corps Training Facility in Kakata, Margibi County where she will meet with girls and young women participating in a GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camp.
Her visit will highlight both the Peace Corps’ work to help girls in underserved communities build self-confidence, communication, and other leadership skills and new programming from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) aimed at improving access to quality education and life skills for adolescent girls across Liberia.
Mrs. Obama will also visit a school in Unification Town (Smell-No-Taste) for a discussion with adolescent girls who have faced serious obstacles in attaining an education.
This discussion will be moderated by actress Freida Pinto, an advocate for girls’ education. The conversation will highlight both the educational barriers girls face as Liberia moves beyond the Ebola epidemic, and the U.S. Government’s efforts to continue to address those barriers and provide adolescent girls with equitable access to safe and quality education.
Meanwhile Mrs. Obama has launched Snapchat Account ahead of trip to the three countries, to encourage students in the United States to follow her trip.
To give young people everywhere a fun way to follow her trip, learn about the more than 62 million girls around the world who aren’t in school, and take action to support them, are some of the reasons Mrs. Obama launched the Snapchat Account: MichelleObama. Mrs. Obama’s Snapchat profile will feature behind-the-scenes Snaps from Washington and abroad, including her upcoming trip and events in the coming months).
Onward to Morocco, Mrs. Obama will be joined by Meryl Streep, also an advocate for girls’ education, and Freida Pinto who will participate in a conversation with adolescent girls, moderated by CNN’s Isha Sesay.
In the discussion, participants will discuss the challenges many girls in the region face in getting a quality education.
The First Lady’s visit will also highlight commitments made by the U.S. Government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation and USAID in partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco to help adolescent girls in Morocco go to school and stay in school. The First Lady will be in Morocco on June 28 and 29.
During their last stop, Madrid, Spain the First Lady will on June 30 deliver a speech on Let Girls Learn to girls and young women, sharing the stories of girls she has met in Liberia and Morocco – and her prior travels – and highlighting new commitments to support Let Girls Learn.
Mrs. Obama will encourage the audience to value their own educational opportunities, continue to strive for progress for girls and young women in their country, and take action to help the more than 62 million girls around the world who are out of school. While in Spain, the First Lady will also meet with Queen Letizia.