Making Michelle feel right at honme……
Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif, the wife of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, began her remarks on educating girls in her country at the White House with a Muslim prayer.
“Bismi Allahi alrrahmani alrraheemi – in the name of God most gracious, most merciful,” Sharif said. “Thank you first lady Michelle Obama.”
Sharif and Obama spoke at an event to promote commitments made by Pakistan and the United States during the couple’s official state visit to the U.S. to help educate girls in what Sharif called “the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” in her remarks.
In 2012, a young Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban terrorist while she rode a bus to school. Yousafzai, then 15, won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote the education of Pakistani girls.
Ahead of Thursday’s event where the first lady spoke about those commitments, the Obama administration announced that the Pakistani government has committed to double spending on education, from two percent to four percent of Gross National Product (GDP) by 2018. Pakistan also will enroll more girls in school and provide more female teachers in schools.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is committing $70 million to help educate more than 200,000 additional Pakistani girls by building or repairing schools in conflict zones, providing training, scholarships, internships and other programs in that country.
At the White House event, Sharif said she was “no feminist” but did not agree with “stereotypical concepts of gender” that can hold women back.
The Associated Press reported that Susan Markham, senior coordinator for gender equality and women’s empowerment at USAID, said girls are less likely to attend primary school, are more likely to face barriers to access and completing an education, and that educating girls has ripple effects that go beyond helping just the individual.
“Empowering girls and ensuring them access to quality education has long-term transformational benefits for their future, for their families and communities and for Pakistan’s economic prosperity overall,” Markham told reporters during a conference call to preview the announcement.
President Barack Obama and the first lady launched the Let Girls Learn initiative this year to help more than 60 million adolescent girls around the world who don’t attend school, and they have been urging world leaders to join the effort, according to the AP.