Applause broke out when Obama spoke about women's rights during his speech to the Muslim world at Cairo University in the Egyptian capital.
"Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons," the president said, "and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity -- men and women -- to reach their full potential."
Women do not need to make the same choices as men to be equal, "but it should be their choice," he said.
Women's rights isn't just an issue for Islam, Obama said, noting that several Muslim-majority countries have elected women to lead them.
"Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life and in countries around the world," he said.
A woman who is denied an education is "denied equality," the president said. Obama pledged that the United States would partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls and to help women pursue employment through financial assistance.
"(It) is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous," he said.