Remarks by the First Lady at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Spousal Program

December 14, 2022

[As prepared for delivery.]

Thank you, Kalkidan. What an inspiring story! You and your sister show us that when we invest in our young people, you go on to make your communities better for everyone. Thank you for your work.

I'm so grateful to Deborah and the Kennedy Center team for opening the REACH for us today.

And Doug, thank you for your kind words. You always use your voice to speak up for what's right, and we're grateful for your partnership in this Administration.

The President and I have been looking forward to welcoming you and your spouses to Washington, D.C. I'm honored to be with all of you today.

When Joe became President, I made a promise to myself that I would never waste this platform. I wanted to use it to shine a light on issues that I've worked on for many years: supporting military families, lifting up community colleges and education around the world, and advancing the fight against cancer. And I saw how our country needed healing in so many ways.

I wasn't elected—but I had a part to play.

As spouses, we serve the people of our countries, too. Don't we?

We see their hearts and hopes. We witness the small miracles of compassion and generosity between neighbors. We know what can happen when communities come together—how much can change when we work towards a cause that's bigger than ourselves.

There's no one way to approach this role—and it's a unique experience that few people understand. That's why this summit, and the partnerships we're building here, matter so much. All of us have something to share with this group—and something to learn as well.

Because we're connected.

Around the world, we've seen challenges that affect us all: Hunger and violence. Poverty and climate change. They aren't contained by borders.

But we've also seen that when we invest in our communities, our young people are able to find more opportunities to succeed. When girls can learn to their full potential, they can become the leaders and innovators that we all need.

Through the Cancer Moonshot—our White House initiative to transform cancer care and save lives—we're bringing together international partners to share innovative ideas and practices, work together to ease the burden on patients, and create new ways to treat diseases.

Because when doctors and researchers work across borders and industries, they can make breakthroughs that save lives around the world.

And as the Cancer Moonshot expands its engagements, we are focused on how we can play our part in a global effort. That's why the U.S. Government and our private sector partners are committing over $300 million in programs and new initiatives to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancers across the African continent. As Second Lady, I had the opportunity to visit the continent five times. The memories I made there have stayed with me and I look forward to visiting again.

During these two days, we will share some of the food, art, and culture that brings the United States enormous pride. And as you experience what makes our nation unique—I hope you will also see just how many things we have in common.

I hope we are reminded that our differences are precious and our similarities infinite.

Because our future will be built on that shared ground.

There's a quote I admire, that many of you may know: "I've learned that people may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

We may not remember every word that is said here today—but my hope is that the way we make each other feel will last beyond this summit. That the friendships we find will be meaningful and memorable for years and years to come.

Now, today, we're going to discuss cancer. But I hope you will also share your work or experiences breaking down barriers facing women and girls.

So once again, it's my honor to welcome you to our beautiful capital, and to introduce our next speaker, whom many of you know.

He's been a champion for global health for more than three decades, and is leading PEPFAR. Please join me in welcoming, Ambassador John Nkengasong.

Jill Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Spousal Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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