“I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to find these girls and bring them home,” Mrs. Obama said in the White House’s weekly address. “In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams — and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”
The U.S. and other countries are providing help to the Nigerian government to find the girls, who were abducted last month. The leader of the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram said he took the girls to prevent them from getting an education and vowed to sell them into slavery.
Amnesty International reported Friday that the Nigerian military knew in advance of the abduction plans but failed to stop it.
Mrs. Obama posed for a photo earlier at the White House in which she held a sign bearing the social media rallying cry for the incident, “#BringBackOurGirls.”
The first lady said what happened in Nigeria “was not an isolated incident.”
“More than 65 million girls worldwide are not in school,” Mrs. Obama said. “Yet, we know that girls who are educated make higher wages, lead healthier lives and have healthier families. And when more girls attend secondary school, that boosts their country’s entire economy.”
She said the benefits of girls getting an education apply “right here in the U.S. as well … so I hope the story of these Nigerian girls will serve as an inspiration for every girl — and boy — in this country.”
“I hope that any young people in America who take school for granted — any young people who are slacking off or thinking of dropping out — I hope they will learn the story of these girls and recommit themselves to their education,” she said.
Mrs. Obama said Americans should “pray for their safe return.”