Michelle Obama Urges Change In Attitudes On Gender To Support Girls' Education

"Solving our girls' education is ... about whether parents think their daughters are as worthy of an education as their sons."

The First Lady took her campaign for gender equality to the Middle East in a speech at an education conference on Wednesday. Speaking to an audience from 120 countries in Doha, Qatar, Michelle Obama urged global support for girls' education and working women. Noting that the struggle required both financial backing and fundamental changes in how society treated women, Obama called on men to support the fight.

"Today, to all of the men here, I want to be very clear. We need you," she said to the 2,000-strong audience in a plea that could be seen as at odds with traditional views of gender roles in the Arab world. "As fathers, as husbands and simply as human beings, this is your struggle, too."

Obama, who graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School herself, added that more had to be done in regards to attitudes and beliefs when it came to girls' education, the Associated Press reported.

"Solving our girls' education is definitely about resources, but it is also about attitudes and beliefs," she said. "It's about whether parents think their daughters are as worthy of an education as their sons. It's about whether our societies cling to outdated laws and traditions that oppress and exclude women."

Obama's speech at the 2015 World Innovation Summit for Education was part of her ongoing Let Girls Learn initiative that champions girls' education across the world. 

She has long been a vocal advocate for women's rights and has used her position to elevate the cause.

The First Lady arrived at Doha on Monday for a weeklong trip that included visiting U.S. troops and Syrian children refugees in Jordan. 

Cover image via Kris Connor / Getty Images