First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama says she’s committed to empowering girls worldwide to get an education. Although much has been done in the last decade "we know that our work is far from finished when 62 million girls are still not in school," she told a crowd of advocates at the Brookings Institution think tank on Friday.
The first lady said that girls across the globe are counting on their leaders to be bold and creative and to give them the opportunities they deserve.
Obama added that more work is needed to convince parents that their daughters are as worthy of an education as their sons. But she also noted that efforts should be made to calm parents’ fears that their daughters will be attacked and assaulted on their way to and from school.
While educating girls is one of the most empowering measures communities can take, she said that societies also have to find ways to ensure that girls don’t just start school, they actually stay in school through adolescence.
For that, the first lady says more laws and policies are required at the local level because they are the building blocks for change.
Obama applauded organizations like Tostan whose work she says has brought 7,000 communities in Africa to abandon early marriage and female genital mutilation. Tostan partners with mostly-rural communities in six African countries — Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal — to bring about social change.