WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is challenging young leaders from Africa to bring change to their countries by standing up for freedom, openness and peaceful disagreement.

In a White House forum with civil society leaders from more than 40 African countries, Obama asked audience members to demonstrate good habits within their own groups. He prodded the men to ensure that women have an equal voice, and said all the participants could be national leaders one day.

Obama is the son of a white mother from the U.S. state of Kansas and a black father from Kenya.

He said problems such as corruption remain entrenched in some African countries. But he said the continent is on the move, with inspiring young people whose creativity is needed at home and around the world.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.