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U.S. First Lady Calls on African Men to Uplift Women

  • Tatenda Gumbo

U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, has called on Africa's men to help support women, so as to enable them to make significant progress in life.

Addressing young men and women fellows at the 2014 Young African Leaders Summit (YALI), Mrs. Obama congratulated the group and praised them for their accomplishments.

The First Lady said as an African American woman, her journey to the White House, was rooted in the legacy of her ancestors, grandparents and parents, showing her and the world that women are able to be catalysts in changing the world around them.

Quoting the namesake of the YALI program, Nelson Mandela, she said, “it always seems impossible until it is done.”

Long an advocate of young women's rights, Mrs. Obama called for a change in the educational, cultural and social rights for young girls and women. She said the problem of gender equality is not only an issue of resources but lingering oppressive attitudes and beliefs.

She shared how the men in her life, including her husband, President Barack Obama, contributed to her success.

"I am who I am day, particularly because of the men in my family," said Mrs. Obama.

Amid loud cheers from the audience, she added, "that is why I married the man who had the good sense to marry someone who was his equal.”

Brian Geza, a father of three and artist with Zvishamiso Arts, commended Mrs. Obama's hard talk, noting that as a young man from Zimbabwe, he is working to sensitize all men mainly those in rural areas about gender equality.

Another YALI fellow and human rights lawyer, Rumbidzai Dube, said she was inspired by Mrs. Obama's speech, and agreed with her 100%. This sentiment was shared by Sibusisiwe Ndlovu Bhebhe, who works with women in the media.

Mrs. Obama encouraged the 2014 YALI fellows to nurture their legacy and continue to represent their countries and Africa. She told the participants Africa's future was in their hands.