Saturday, August 16, 2014
August 14, 2014
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I would like to extend congratulations to the people of the Republic of the Congo as you commemorate 54 years of independence on August 15.
We enjoy a close friendship with the Republic of the Congo, working with government officials, private sector leaders, and a broad spectrum of Congolese civil society to strengthen democratic institutions, improve regional security, and promote economic growth and development, sustainable environmental stewardship, and human rights for all people. We are working closely with our Congolese partners to bring peace and stability to the neighboring Central African Republic, and we commend the efforts of the Congolese government to promote political dialogue and a lasting peace for the benefit of the sub-region.
I wish the people of the Republic of the Congo a happy Independence Day celebration. We look forward to forging ever closer ties as we work towards common goals in the region and around the globe.
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
August 14, 2014
At the recommendation of the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone, the State Department today ordered the departure from Freetown of all eligible family members (EFMs) not employed by post. The Embassy recommended this step out of an abundance of caution, following the determination by the Department’s Medical Office that there is a lack of options for routine health care services at major medical facilities due to the Ebola outbreak.
We are reconfiguring the Embassy staff to be more responsive to the current situation. Our entire effort is currently focused on assisting U.S. citizens in the country, the Government of Sierra Leone, international health organizations, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Sierra Leonean people to deal with this unprecedented Ebola outbreak.
We remain deeply committed to supporting Sierra Leone and regional and international efforts to strengthen the capacity of the country’s health care infrastructure and system — specifically, the capacity to contain and control the transmission of the Ebola virus, and deliver health care.
Department of State
August 14, 2014
Liberia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and the United States confirmed last week their intention to join the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA). At the August 4 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit event entitled “Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate,” Secretary of State John Kerry announced the United States’ intention to join GACSA and encouraged African countries to participate. The event highlighted the nexus of food security, climate change, and resilience – issues that are of particular concern among African nations, where much of the population, relying on rain-fed agriculture, is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on rainfall patterns and seasonal temperatures.
Slated for launch at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit on September 23, GACSA is expected to engage a range of government, multinational organizations, private sector, farmers and civil society stakeholders to achieve sustainable increases in agricultural productivity, greater resilience and a reduction of agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States supports climate-smart agriculture globally through its Feed the Future and Global Climate Change initiatives. This year, USAID initiated ten new Feed the Future Innovation Laboratories to increase global food security and help smallholder farmers boost incomes and improve nutrition. These laboratories draw the expertise of top U.S. universities and developing country research institutions, and will tackle some of the world’s most challenging agricultural research problems with the premise of introducing safe, environmentally sustainable proven and appropriate technologies to the world’s most vulnerable people.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the establishment of seven regional climate hubs to deliver information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in the United States to help them adapt to climate change and weather variability.
The U.S. State Department also supports targeted programs that advance climate resilience and food security throughout the world including through contributions to the multilateral Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund and through support for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s new Agriculture Initiative.
Full text of the joint announcement:
Statement of Endorsement for a Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture
The Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity includes, in Section VI, a Commitment to Enhancing Resilience of Livelihoods and Production Systems to Climate Variability and other related risks. This commitment is consistent with the aspirations of those supporting the founding, later this year, of the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA).
Liberia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and the United States announce our intention to:
• Join and support the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture expected to be launched in September of this year at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit.
• Urge other countries, along with civil society organizations, private sector representatives, farmer organizations, and other enterprises to join the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture to help fulfill our shared aspirations for strengthened global food and nutrition security and resilience.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Department of State
August 8, 2014
On August 8, the United States hosted West African partners from Benin, Cabo Verde, Cotê d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo at the U.S. Department of State to discuss the mutual concern of transnational organized crime. The dialogue brought together representatives from West African states and members of the U.S. interagency community in order to strengthen regional cooperation and discuss future priorities for combatting transnational organized crime.
Transnational criminal activity, particularly narcotics trafficking, threatens regional stability in West Africa and U.S. national security. Criminal organizations operate globally and leverage vital transportation, communications, and financial networks, and enjoy impunity by exploiting or co-opting vulnerable individuals and institutions. Proceeds from these activities have been known to provide support, directly or indirectly, to violent extremist organizations. It is not sufficient to tackle these threats solely through bilateral law enforcement cooperation. Combating transnational organized crime requires an integrated, whole-of-government approach in coordination with regional and global partners, underpinned by the UN drug control and anti-crime treaties.
During the meeting, the United States and our West African partners affirmed our commitment to cooperatively address transnational organized crime in West Africa. The United States will continue to offer technical assistance to build accountable and effective government institutions and an active civil society, both of which can address transnational organized crime and its supporting activities, including drug trafficking, corruption, and money laundering. The United States reaffirmed its commitment to work with West African states to reduce demand for illicit drugs. We are also committed to working cooperatively with West African partners following the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington and in the lead up to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs scheduled for 2016.
The West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative (WACSI) is a U.S. government effort to increase global security by addressing transnational organized crime in West Africa.
Please contact INL-PAPD@state.gov for more information. You can follow the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs on Twitter @StateINL and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/StateINL.
Secretary of State
August 7, 2014
Today marks the 16th anniversary of the cowardly terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that killed over 200 and wounded thousands more. We commemorate those who were lost that day, honor the lives they lived, and extend our condolences to the loved ones they left behind.
Today’s anniversary is a somber reminder of the continued terrorist threat that we face on the African continent and around the world, and an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to partner with our allies to confront it. At the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that concluded yesterday, the United States and leaders from across Africa confirmed our shared commitment to the continent’s security and recommitted our resolve to address threats—in East Africa and more broadly—so that we and our partners can enjoy peace and security.
August 7, 2014
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Cote d’Ivoire as you celebrate your national independence on August 7.
Our two nations have been partners since independence peacefully arrived in Cote d’Ivoire over half a century ago. As your new flag flew over Abidjan, one of the first congratulations to arrive was a letter from U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. Robert Kennedy was in Cote d’Ivoire that next August to celebrate one year of peace and independence with your proud nation.
Our bonds of friendship have only grown stronger in the years since as we promote democracy and prosperity for the entire West Africa region.
Following a long tradition of mutual warmth and regard, I extend the United States’ best wishes to the people of Cote d’Ivoire on your day of celebration.
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
August 7, 2014
On August 5, the U.S. Special Representative for Somalia, James P. McAnulty and Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Robinson, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs participated in a signing ceremony with Somali Finance Minister Hussein Abdi Halane at the U.S. Department of State. Special Representative McAnulty and Minister Hussein signed a bilateral agreement providing approximately $1.9 million to support Somali-led efforts in broad, national security sector reform through support to police development initiatives.
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) will provide the funding which will allow the United States and the Somali Federal Government to work together to support police reform projects designed to increase the capacity of officials to deter and effectively respond to crime. This is INL’s second agreement with the Government of Somalia.
Programs will support implementation of policies, procedures, and practices that place citizen services and respect for human rights at the forefront. The main focus of this new agreement will be to provide support to the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) of the Somali National Police Force, to build technical capacity to investigate complex crimes, effectively prepare cases for prosecutions, and provide on the job mentoring to mid-to-senior members of CID to ensure sustainability.
For further information, please contact the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
August 7, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry has announced that the U.S. Department of State plans to commit an additional $10 million for the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance initiative (U.S.-ACEF), which is aimed at helping Africans transition away from traditional sources of energy that contribute to the global challenge of climate change.
Two out of three sub-Saharan Africans — nearly 600 million people — lack access to electricity. That forces them to spend significant income on costly and unhealthy forms of energy, such as diesel to run factory generators and wood for smoky indoor fires for cooking.
Secretary Kerry announced the additional investment in U.S.-ACEF on August 5 at a U.S.-Africa Business Summit, hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies. It raised the total State Department support for the program to $30 million.
The Business Summit coincided with the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which brought nearly 50 African heads of state to Washington for a range of discussions focused on the Continent, its issues, and ways for the United States to partner with the nations.
The Business Summit also included announcements of the latest U.S.-ACEF projects –micro-lending for solar energy and access to fresh water through the Participatory Microfinance Group for Africa program, as well as a small hydroelectric project that will power Shyira Hospital in Rwanda’s northern province.
U.S.-ACEF launched two years ago as an innovative partnership between the State Department, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to provide early-stage development support for clean energy investment in sub-Saharan Africa.
The initiative brings together USTDA’s project planning expertise with OPIC’s financing and risk mitigation skills to encourage private sector investment and increase support for U.S. businesses and exports in sub-Saharan Africa’s clean energy sector. U.S.-ACEF support ensures that technically and financially sound projects are implemented, rather than falling short because of insufficient project preparation.
U.S.-ACEF has seen high demand, receiving more than 400 project applications since its launch. While originally projected to last five years, the initial $20 million investment is expected to be fully deployed by the end of 2014.
Collectively, these projects are on track to unlock hundreds of millions of private investment dollars that would not otherwise flow. A small amount of support at the project preparation stage can leverage significantly larger investments. For example, $400,000 in U.S.-ACEF support enabled $19.4 million in private financing for Gigawatt Global’s 8.5 megawatt, grid-connected, solar power plant in Rwanda.
U.S.-ACEF projects have the potential to result in hundreds of megawatts in additional power generation capacity across Africa.
Department of State
August 7, 2014
On August 7 in Washington, DC, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Assistant Secretary Charles Rivkin and Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Agapito Mba Mokuy signed an Open Skies air services agreement that will formalize the liberalization of our bilateral aviation relationship. The United States and Equatorial Guinea initialed the agreement in December 2013, and it has been applied via comity and reciprocity since that time.
The Open Skies Agreement enters into force upon signature of the two parties.
The Open Skies Agreement establishes a liberalized aviation relationship between the United States and Equatorial Guinea. It creates opportunities for strengthening the economic partnership between the United States and Equatorial Guinea through closer links in transport and trade.
Open Skies agreements permit unrestricted air service by the airlines of both countries between and beyond the other’s territory, eliminating restrictions on how often the carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use and the prices they charge. This agreement will allow for the strengthening and expansion of our strong trade and tourism links with Equatorial Guinea, benefitting U.S. and Equatorial Guinean businesses and travelers by expanding opportunities for air services and encouraging vigorous price competition by airlines, while preserving our commitments to aviation safety and security.
The United States has over 110 Open Skies agreements with partners around the world and at all levels of development.
For more information about Open Skies, please visit: http://www.state.gov/e/eb/tra/ata/index.htm.
Department of State
August 7, 2014
The United States hosted a delegation of Moroccan Government officials in Washington, D.C. for the U.S.–Africa Leaders Summit. On August 7, 2014, the United States and Morocco signed a Framework for Cooperation on Training for Civilian Security Services. The goal of the framework is to develop mutual expertise in the areas of crisis management, border security, and terrorism investigations to strengthen regional counterterrorism capabilities and to deny space to terrorists and terrorist networks.
The framework outlines steps to identify and further develop a cadre of Moroccan training experts, jointly train civilian security and counterterrorism forces in partner countries in the greater Maghreb and Sahel regions, and measure the effectiveness of these trainings. The first joint training is scheduled for September 2014.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
President Obama welcomes leaders from across the African continent to the nation’s capital for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind. This Summit, the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, builds on the President’s trip to Africa in the summer of 2013 and will strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing regions. Specifically, the August 4-6 Summit advances the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa and highlights America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people. At the same time, it highlights the depth and breadth of the United States’ commitment to the African continent, advances our shared priorities, and enables discussion of concrete ideas to deepen the partnership. At its core, this Summit is about fostering stronger ties between the United States and Africa.
The theme of the Summit is “Investing in the Next Generation.” Focusing on the next generation is at the core of a government’s responsibility and work, and this Summit is an opportunity to discuss ways of stimulating growth, unlocking opportunities, and creating an enabling environment for the next generation.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the First Lady
July 30, 2014
REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY AT THE SUMMIT OF THE MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWSHIP FOR YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERS
The Omni Shoreham Hotel
11:01 A.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my goodness. Look at you all! (Applause.) Oh, please sit, sit. Rest. (Laughter.) How has everything been? Exciting? So you’ve talked to a lot of important people — my husband, he was here. (Applause.) That’s good. And a few other people? You’ve been traveling around the country doing great things. It is such a pleasure, and such an honor and a joy to join you here today for this wonderful summit.
Let me start by thanking John for that beautiful introduction, but more importantly, for his outstanding leadership for young people — in particular, young girls — in Uganda. And I want to take a moment to thank all of you for being part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Yes. (Applause.) We have been so excited about your presence here in this country. We have been so excited.
Now, I’ve had the opportunity to read through your bios, and I have to tell you that I am truly in awe of what you all have achieved. Many of you are barely half my age, yet you already have founded businesses and NGOs, you’ve served as leaders in your government, you’ve earned countless degrees, you know dozens of languages. So you all truly represent the talent, the energy and the diversity that is Africa’s lifeblood, and it is an honor to host you here in the United States. (Applause.) We’re so proud.
Now, from what I’ve heard, you all have been making good use of this time here. You’ve been learning new skills, questioning old assumptions, and having some frank conversations with experts and with each other about the challenges and opportunities in your countries. And I want to use our time together today to continue that dialogue. Today, I want us to talk -– and I mean really talk. I want to speak as openly and honestly as possible about the issues we care about and what it means to be a leader not just in Africa but in the world today.
Now, one of the issues that I care deeply about is, as John alluded to, girls’ education. And across the globe, the statistic on this issue are heartbreaking. Right now, 62 million girls worldwide are not in school, including nearly 30 million girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. And as we saw in Pakistan, where Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, and in Nigeria where more than 200 girls were kidnapped from their school dormitory by Boko Haram terrorists, even when girls do attend school, they often do so at great risk.
And as my husband said earlier this week, we know that when girls aren’t educated, that doesn’t just limit their prospects, leaving them more vulnerable to poverty, violence and disease, it limits the prospects of their families and their countries as well.
Now, in recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about how to address this issue, and how we need more schools and teachers, more money for toilets and uniforms, transportation, school fees. And of course, all of these issues are critically important, and I could give a perfectly fine speech today about increasing investments in girls’ education around the world.
But I said I wanted to be honest. And if I do that, we all know that the problem here isn’t only about resources, it’s also about attitudes and beliefs. It’s about whether fathers and mothers think their daughters are as worthy of an education as their sons. It’s about whether societies cling to outdated laws and traditions that oppress and exclude women, or whether they view women as full citizens entitled to fundamental rights.
So the truth is, I don’t think it’s really productive to talk about issues like girls’ education unless we’re willing to have a much bigger, bolder conversation about how women are viewed and treated in the world today. (Applause.) And we need to be having this conversation on every continent and in every country on this planet. And that’s what I want to do today with all of you, because so many of you are already leading the charge for progress in Africa.
Now, as an African American woman, this conversation is deeply personal to me. The roots of my family tree are in Africa. As you know, my husband’s father was born and raised in Kenya — (applause) — and members of our extended family still live there. I have had the pleasure of traveling to Africa a number of times over the years, including four trips as First Lady, and I have brought my mother and my daughters along with me whenever I can. So believe me, the blood of Africa runs through my veins, and I care deeply about Africa’s future. (Applause.)
Now, the status of women in Africa is also personal to me as a woman. See, what I want you all to understand is that I am who I am today because of the people in my family -– particularly the men in my family -– who valued me and invested in me from the day I was born. I had a father, a brother, uncles, grandfathers who encouraged me and challenged me, protected me, and told me that I was smart and strong and beautiful. (Applause.)
And as I grew up, the men who raised me set a high bar for the type of men I’d allow into my life — (applause) — which is why I went on to marry a man who had the good sense to fall in love with a woman who was his equal — (applause) — and to treat me as such; a man who supports and reveres me, and who supports and reveres our daughters, as well. (Applause.)
And throughout my life — understand this — every opportunity I’ve had, every achievement I’m proud of has stemmed from this solid foundation of love and respect. So given these experiences, it saddens and confuses me to see that too often, women in some parts of Africa are still denied the rights and opportunities they deserve to realize their potential.
Now, let’s be very clear: In many countries in Africa, women have made tremendous strides. More girls are attending school. More women are starting businesses. Maternal mortality has plummeted. And more women are serving in parliaments than ever before. In fact, in some countries, more than 30 percent of legislators are women. In Rwanda, it’s over 50 percent — which, by the way, is more than double the percentage of women in the U.S. Congress. Yes. (Applause.)
Now, these achievements represent remarkable progress. But at the same time, when girls in some places are still being married off as children, sometimes before they even reach puberty; when female genital mutilation still continues in some countries; when human trafficking, rape and domestic abuse are still too common, and perpetrators are often facing no consequences for their crimes — then we still have some serious work to do in Africa and across the globe.
And while I have great respect for cultural differences, I think we can all agree that practices like genital cutting, forced child marriage, domestic violence are not legitimate cultural practices, they are serious human rights violations and have no place in any country on this Earth. (Applause.) These practices have no place in our shared future, because we all know that our future lies in our people -– in their talent, their ambition, their drive. And no country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.
And I know this firsthand from the history of my own country. A century ago, women in America weren’t allowed to vote. Decades ago, it was perfectly legal for employers to refuse to hire women. Domestic violence was viewed not as a crime, but as a private family matter between a man and his wife.
But in each generation, people of conscience stood up and rejected these unjust practices. They chained themselves to the White House gates, waged hunger strikes in prison to win the right to vote. They took their bosses to court. They spoke out about rape and fought to prosecute rapists, despite the stigma and shame. They left their abusive husbands, even when that meant winding up on the streets with their children. (Applause.)
And today in America, we see the results of those hard-fought battles: 60 percent of college students today are women. Women are now more than half the workforce. And in recent decades, women’s employment has added nearly $2 trillion to the U.S. economy -– yes, trillion. (Applause.)
Now, are we anywhere near full economic, political, and domestic equality in the United States? Absolutely not. We still struggle every day with serious issues like violence against women, unequal pay. Women are still woefully underrepresented in our government and in the senior ranks of our corporations.
But slowly, generation after generation, we’ve been moving in the right direction because of brave individuals who were willing to risk their jobs, their reputations, and even their lives to achieve equality. And it wasn’t just brave women who made these sacrifices. It was also brave men, too — (applause) — men who hired women, men who passed laws to empower women, men who prosecuted other men who abused women.
So to all the men, my brothers here today, I have a simple message: We need you to shake things up. (Applause.) Too often, women are fighting these battles alone, but men like you, progressive men who are already ahead of the curve on women’s issues, you all are critically important to solving this problem.
And that starts by doing a little introspection. And I say this not just to the 250 of you who are in the room today, but to men around the world. Men in every country need to look into their hearts and souls and ask themselves whether they truly view and treat women as their equals. (Applause.) And then when you all encounter men in your lives who answer no to that question, then you need to take them to task. You need to tell them that any man who uses his strength to oppress women is a coward, and he is holding back the progress of his family and his country. (Applause.)
Tell them that a truly strong, powerful man isn’t threatened by a strong, powerful woman. (Applause.) Instead, he is challenged by her, he is inspired by her, he is pleased to relate to her as an equal. And I want you to keep modeling that behavior yourselves by promoting women in your companies, passing laws to empower women in your countries, and holding the same ambitious dreams for your daughters as you do for your sons.
And to the women here, my sisters —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
MRS. OBAMA: And I love you. I do. (Applause.) Which is why I want us as women to understand that oppression is not a one-way street.
See, too often, without even realizing it, we as women internalize the oppression we face in our societies by believing harmful messages about how we should look and act, particularly as women of color –- messages that tell us that we’re ugly or irrelevant, that we don’t deserve full control over our bodies, that we should keep our mouths shut and just do as we’re told. And then, too often, we turn around and impose those same beliefs on other women and girls in our lives, including our own daughters.
For example, in countries across the globe, there are women who still support and carry out the practice of genital cutting. There are women who are still insisting on marrying off their young daughters or keeping them home from school to help with the housework.
And then there are the more subtle harms that we afflict — inflict on each other — the harm of spurning our sisters who don’t conform to traditions because we’re jealous or suspicious of their courage and their freedom; the harm of turning a blind eye when a woman in our community is being abused because we don’t want to cause conflict with our neighbors by speaking up.
And I imagine that for some of you here today, getting your degree might have meant disobeying or disappointing your families. Maybe while you’ve been acing your studies and thriving in your career, you have a grandmother who has been wringing her hands because you’re not yet married. (Laughter and applause.) But, my sisters, you all are here today because you have found a way to overcome these challenges, and you have blossomed into powerful, accomplished women. And we need you all to help others do the same.
All of us, men and women on every continent, we all need to identify these problems in ourselves and in our communities, and then commit to solving them. And I say this to you not just as lawyers and activists and business leaders, but as current and future parents. Because as a mother myself, I can tell you that this is where change truly happens. With the behavior we model, with our actions and inactions, every day, we as parents shape the values of the next generation.
For example, my parents never had the chance to attend university, but they had the courage and foresight to push me to get the best education I could. And they weren’t threatened by the prospect of me having more opportunities than they had — just the opposite. They were thrilled.
And that’s what should drive us all: The hope of raising the next generation to be stronger, smarter and bolder than our generation. (Applause.) And that is exactly the kind of work that so many of you are already doing in your families and your communities, which is why I’m so proud of you.
I could name all of you, but there are a few of you that I will remark on. Mahamadou Camara from Mali. (Applause.) He is working to educate women about micro-credit and accounting so that they can run their own businesses and build better lives for their children. In Liberia, Patrice Juah. (Applause.) She founded Miss Education Awareness Pageant to inspire girls to pursue higher education and have opportunities their parents never dreamed of. And in Burundi, Fikiri Nzoyisenga. (Applause.) He created a youth coalition to fight violence against women because he doesn’t want anything to hold them back from pursuing their dreams.
This is where Africa’s future lies –- with those women-run businesses, with those girls attending university, and with leaders like you who are making those dreams possible. And the question today is how all of you and young people like you will steer Africa’s course to embrace that future. Because ultimately, that’s what leadership is really about. It’s not just about holding degrees or holding elected office. And it’s not about preserving our own power or continuing traditions that oppress and exclude.
Leadership is about creating new traditions that honor the dignity and humanity of every individual. Leadership is about empowering all of our people –- men, women, boys and girls –- to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential. And when we commit to that kind of leadership across the globe, that is when we truly start making progress on girls’ education. Because that’s when families in small villages around the world will demand equal opportunities for their daughters. They won’t wait. That’s when countries will willingly and generously invest in sending their girls to school, because they’ll know how important it is.
And we all know the ripple effects we can have when we give our girls a chance to learn. We all know that girls who are educated earn higher wages. They’re more likely to stand up to discrimination and abuse. They have healthier children who are more likely to attend school themselves.
So no matter where you all work, no matter what issue you focus on — whether it’s health or microfinance, human rights or clean energy — women’s equality must be a central part of your work. It must. (Applause.) Because make no mistake about it, the work of transforming attitudes about women, it now falls on your shoulders. And it’s up to you all to embrace the future, and then drag your parents and grandparents along with you. (Laughter.)
And I know this won’t be easy. I know that you will face all kinds of obstacles and resistance — you already have. But when you get tired or frustrated, when things seem hopeless and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember the words of the man whom your fellowship is now named — and I know these words have been spoken many times. As Madiba once said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.” And I, oh, I know the truth of those words from my own history and from the history of my country.
My ancestors came here in chains. My parents and grandparents knew the sting of segregation and discrimination. Yet I attended some of the best universities in this country. I had career opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. And today, I live in the White House, a building — (applause) — but we must remember, we live in a home that was constructed by slaves.
Today, I watch my daughters –- two beautiful African American girls -– walking our dogs in the shadow of the Oval Office. And today, I have the privilege of serving and representing the United States of America across the globe.
So my story and the story of my country is the story of the impossible getting done. And I know that can be your story and that can be Africa’s story too. (Applause.) But it will take new energy, it will take new ideas, new leadership from young people like you. That is why we brought you here today.
We’ve done this because we believe in Africa, and we believe in all of you. And understand we are filled with so much hope and so many expectations for what you will achieve. You hold the future of your continent in your hands, and I cannot wait to see everything you will continue to accomplish in the years ahead.
Thank you. God bless. (Applause.)
END 11:26 A.M. EDT