First lady Michelle Obama said Saturday that she and President Obama are "outraged and heartbroken" about the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls on Tuesday by an Islamist militant group.
"This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education -- grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls," she said in the weekly White House address. "And I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government's efforts to find these girls and bring them home."
The name of the terrorist group behind the kidnappings - Boko Haram - roughly translates to "western education is forbidden." The group has previously attacked schools in Nigeria to protest the education of women there.
The president has also weighed in on the issue, pledging in an interview with WBBM's Megan Glaros on Tuesday to "do everything we can to assist in recovering these young women." The U.S. has already dispatched a team of advisers to assist the Nigerians in recovering the girls.
"More broadly, though, we're going to have to really tackle a pernicious problem inside that country -- an organization that has carried out ruthless attacks and killed thousands of people over the last several years," the president added.
The first lady's speech marks the first time the she has delivered the White House's weekly address by herself since her husband became president. She previously joined the president for his address in December 2012, when she and Mr. Obama wished Americans a happy holiday season.
Obama said she and the president "see our own daughters" in the girls who were kidnapped.
"We see their hopes, their dreams - and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now," she said. "Many of them may have been hesitant to send their daughters off to school, fearing that harm might come their way. But they took that risk because they believed in their daughters' promise and wanted to give them every opportunity to succeed."
The first lady said the kidnapping is, unfortunately, not an "isolated incident," drawing a parallel to the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in 2012 due to her activism on behalf of female education.
"The courage and hope embodied by Malala and girls like her around the world should serve as a call to action, because right now, more than 65 million girls worldwide are not in school," she said. "Yet, we know that girls who are educated make higher wages, lead healthier lives, and have healthier families, and when more girls attend secondary school, that boosts their country's entire economy. So education is truly a girl's best chance for a bright future, not just for herself, but for her family and her nation. "
The address was not the first time the first lady addressed the kidnappings. On Thursday, she tweeted a picture of herself holding a sign that read "#BringBackOurGirls."