By Terry Odenigbo
US First Lady Michelle Obama has said the mass kidnap of Nigerian schoolgirls is part of a wider pattern of threats and intimidation facing girls around the world who pursue an education.
She praised the Nigerian girls’ bravery for returning to their school in the face of previous threats.
Mrs Obama has been an outspoken campaigner for their release. In an unusual move, she delivered her husband’s weekly radio address.
More than 200 girls remain captive.
The Islamist group Boko Haram said it carried out the 14 April attack on the girls’ school in Chibok, in the north-eastern state of Borno.
‘Call to action’
Mrs Obama, who was speaking ahead of Mother’s Day in the US on Sunday, said the girls reminded her and her husband of their own daughters.
“What happened in Nigeria was not an isolated incident. It’s a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions,” she said.
She cited the Pakistani schoolgirl and campaigner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head for speaking out for girls’ education.
“The courage and hope embodied by Malala and girls like her around the world should serve as a call to action,” Mrs Obama said.
“Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping.”
The UN Security Council expressed outrage over the abductions, saying it would consider “appropriate measures” against Boko Haram. The US is seeking to have UN sanctions imposed on the group.
Michelle Obama has often appeared alongside her husband during the weekly address, which is broadcast on radio with a video version available online. This is the first time she has delivered the speech alone.
For more: BBC