Michelle Obama on international tour to promote girls’ education


US First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters are heading to Liberia, Morocco and Spain as part of the White House’s Let Girls Learn Initiative. They will address the obstacles girls face in obtaining an education.

Obama and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, are to meet with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday. She will also have a discussion with local teenage girls and “Slumdog Millionaire” star Freida Pinto about the obstacles to obtaining an education in Liberia.

The recent Ebola outbreak made it even more difficult for girls to attend school in the West African country where only about one-third of girls are enrolled in secondary education. According to a UNESCO report, Liberia ranks second only to South Sudan in the share of primary school-aged girls who do not attend school.

The US first lady and her daughters are making the trip to Africa as part of the White House’s Let Girls Learn Initiative, launched last year by her and US President Barack Obama to encourage developing countries to educate girls. More than 62 million girls worldwide do not attend school.

On Tuesday, Oscar winning actress Meryl Streep will join Michelle Obama and Freida Pinto for a conversation with adolescent girls in Marrakech, Morocco. The North African country’s rate for girls’ education are below regional averages, with a high dropout rate after primary school, US officials told reporters ahead of the first lady’s visit to Morocco.

The trip will end with a speech to hundreds of girls and women in the Spanish capital, Madrid. US President Barack Obama is also scheduled to visit Spain shortly after the first lady to discuss security cooperation, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters.

das/jlw (AP, dpa)