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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Michelle Obama pushes Let Girls Learn education initiative in Morocco

Published 28/06/2016 | 17:36

US First Lady Michelle Obama listens during a conversation with teenage girls in Marrakech, Morocco, about education (AP)
US First Lady Michelle Obama listens during a conversation with teenage girls in Marrakech, Morocco, about education (AP)

US First Lady Michelle Obama has met with teenagers in Morocco to promote education in a country where just 36% of girls continue school beyond primary level.

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Actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto also took part in Mrs Obama's meeting with a group of two dozen young women to discuss the challenges facing girls in getting an education. Like the First Lady, both women are advocates for girls' education.

Mrs Obama's daughters Sasha and Malia have joined their mother in Marrakech but did not take part in the event.

The Let Girls Learn initiative, launched in March 2015 by President Barack Obama and his wife, is to be extended to Morocco, the White House announced on Tuesday.

It said the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US foreign aid agency working with the Washington government, in partnership with the Moroccan government, is investing nearly 100 million US dollars (£75 million) to transform secondary education in the country.

USAID is also giving 400,000 US dollars (£300,000) to create five new girls' dormitories that will improve educational opportunities for girls from rural areas.

Mrs Obama said: "I'm looking forward to adding more voices to this conversation. We need every one of our citizens, boys and girls, to be empowered."

She said 62 million girls worldwide do not have access to education for an array of reasons, from lack of resources to cultural norms.

The group met in the courtyard of Dar Diafa, a historic riad converted into a restaurant.

One young woman taking part, who identified herself only as Karima from Ouarzazate, in south-central Morocco, said her parents ensured she had a primary school education but discouraged her from focusing her secondary education on a field dominated by men, science technology.

Streep said: "Every single person's story is different," as she told the women she was the first in her family with a university education.

Mrs Obama is to attend a traditional Moroccan iftar - the sumptuous dinner to break the fast during Ramadan - on Tuesday night with Princess Lalla Salma, the wife of King Mohammed VI, and will then travel to Spain on Wednesday.

AP

Press Association

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