Michelle Obama urges Africa to advance women's rights

Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:39pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Jeff Mason

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - First Lady Michelle Obama urged young Africans Wednesday to fight for women's rights and battle the stigma of AIDS, using her husband's "yes, we can" campaign slogan to motivate youth across the continent.

Obama is on her second solo trip abroad as first lady to promote issues such as education, health and wellness.

But her speech to a group of young women and men at Regina Mundi Church, which played a role in South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, touched on much harder topics: race, discrimination, democracy and development.

Obama, who is traveling with her mother and two daughters, cited the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States as examples for the younger generation to follow.

"It is because of them that we are able to gather here today...It is because of them that I stand before you as First Lady of the United States of America," she said to applause.

"That is the legacy of the independence generation, the freedom generation. And all of you -- the young people of this continent -- you are the heirs of that blood, sweat, sacrifice and love."

Obama appeared visibly moved when the audience stood and sang an impromptu serenade as she approached the podium. Placing her hands over her heart, she thanked the crowd and seemed to choke back tears.


<p>U.S. first lady Michelle Obama participates during breakout sessions at the Young African Youth Leaders Forum in Johannesburg, June 22, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Dharapak/Pool</p>