WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama says the spouses of the world’s leaders have the power to inspire millions of young people around the globe who are looking for role models and direction.

The first lady commented Wednesday while welcoming more than two dozen of her counterparts from across Africa for a daylong symposium on the role of first spouses.

She urged the spouses to find ways to include young people in whatever they do and to show them that their voices and opinions are valued.

The event is part of an unprecedented gathering of African leaders in Washington.

Mrs. Obama is being joined by her predecessor, Laura Bush, for a conversation about their experiences in the high-profile role of first lady of the United States.