WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama will travel to Japan and Cambodia this week to kick off the administration’s new effort to promote the education of millions of girls worldwide.
The first lady will leave Wednesday for a five-day trip to talk about Let Girls Learn, an international effort aimed at enabling millions of young women to attend, and stay in, school. President Obama, in introducing the initiative two weeks ago, said it would focus the government’s disparate actions to improve girls’ access to education through cooperation with other nations.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Tina Tchen, the first lady’s chief of staff, said Mrs. Obama would stress the importance of responding to community needs, like providing uniforms, that would help get more girls — particularly adolescents — into the classroom. Ms. Tchen said the initiative would also offer training on handling gender-specific issues.
Michelle Obama at a Veterans Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Her best-known initiatives to date have focused on good eating habits.
Mrs. Obama will use stops in Tokyo and Kyoto to talk about a partnership with Japan to improve education for girls in developing countries. The Peace Corps and its Japanese equivalent, the Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, will work together on improvements at the community level. She will appear with Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Mrs. Obama will then travel to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where she and Carrie Hessler-Radelet, the director of the Peace Corps, will meet with students and volunteers and see some of the community programs that are already expanding girls’ access to education there. The first lady will also appear with Bun Rany, the wife of Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia.
Asked about the decision to send Mrs. Obama to Cambodia, a country widely criticized for its human rights record, Evan Medeiros, the National Security Council’s senior director for Asian affairs, said the visit would offer her the opportunity to reinforce the progress Cambodia has made in promoting education and the need for a more inclusive government. She will be the first sitting first lady to visit the country, he said.
Cambodia is one of 11 countries that the Peace Corps will focus on under the Let Girls Learn program during its first year. The others are Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo and Uganda.
As first lady, Mrs. Obama has not often traveled abroad without Mr. Obama; this trip will be her fourth. Last year, she visited China with her daughters, Sasha and Malia, and her mother on a trip that focused on education and culture.
Neither Mrs. Obama’s mother nor her daughters — who she and the president said had motivated their interest in girls’ education worldwide as they announced the Let Girls Learn effort — will join her on this trip.