Michelle Obama to African first ladies: 'Fight for our girls'

US first lady Michelle Obama (left) and former US first lady Laura Bush speak during a panel discussion during "Investing in Our Future" at the US-Africa Leaders Summit at the Kennedy Centre on August 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. Michelle Obama and Lau
US first lady Michelle Obama (left) and former US first lady Laura Bush speak during a panel discussion during "Investing in Our Future" at the US-Africa Leaders Summit at the Kennedy Centre on August 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. Michelle Obama and Laura Bush were joined by others to discuss women's issues and advancement in Africa. -- PHOTO: AFP 

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday called on her fellow presidential spouses from across Africa to "fight for our girls," saying no girl should fear getting an education.

Mrs Obama alluded indirectly to the plight of schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist rebels in Nigeria in a panel discussion with former first lady Laura Bush on the closing day of a US summit with African leaders.

"We have to fight for our girls," she said, speaking to an audience of other first ladies attending the summit.

"There should never be a girl in the world who has to fear getting educated. That is something that should be intolerable to all of us," she said.

In a conversation with Mrs Bush and moderator Cokie Roberts that dealt with their children, their projects and the pressure and satisfactions of their unique roles as model women, Mrs Obama said she thought of what she wanted for her own daughters - Malia and Sasha.

"And if it's good enough for our girls it should be good enough for every single girl in the world.

"But it's going to take leadership like us, women like us, speaking up in our countries and making sure that young girls are not subject to abuse and are loved and valued. And until we do that we will not solve these problems."

Although the summit has dealt mainly with the investment and economic opportunities in Africa, it also has raised troubling challenges in a region better known for violent conflicts, famine, and often harsh treatment of women.

More than 200 schoolgirls remain in captivity nearly four months after being abducted by Boko Haram rebels who stormed a school in north-east Nigeria April 14.

The summit has also heard of the use of rape and sexual assault on a massive scale in strife-torn eastern Democratic Republic of China.

A theme of the summit has been to highlight how the education and empowerment of girls and women in Africa are key to the region's future prosperity.