On a day when people around the world celebrate women’s equality, Mrs. Laura W. Bush spoke about leadership and empowerment with a group of aspiring female leaders from Egypt. International Women’s Day marked the graduation of the first class of Fellows in the George W. Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program and the beginning of a yearlong training program for the 2013 class.
“The inclusion of women in all aspects of society strengthens their communities and improves the stability of their countries,” said Laura Bush, former first lady of the United States and co-founder of the Bush Institute. “Through the Women’s Initiative at the Bush Institute, we’re working to improve social and economic opportunity for women and girls.”
The morning event documented the accomplishments of the first fellowship class and welcomed the newest class of Fellows. A panel discussion with the graduating Fellows highlighted the importance of equipping and encouraging women to lead around the world.
“The purpose of the Fellowship is to equip women with the skills they need to strengthen civil society and ultimately transform their country,” said Charity Wallace, Director of the Women’s Initiative and Senior Adviser to Mrs. Bush. “And after spending the last year working with these remarkable women, I can attest that they are doing so.”
The Women’s Initiative Fellowship helps women in the Middle East develop the necessary skills to become effective leaders and build a stronger civil society. Fellows study leadership skills, exchange expertise, and learn to advocate for social stability. Skills acquired can be shared with colleagues and friends, thereby broadening the women’s network.
Bush Institute-commissioned research shows that with a strong professional network, a woman is better able to prosper in her field and expand her influence. Based on the underlying significance of networks, each Fellowship class is composed of 14-20 women from a single country, representing six important sectors of society: education, health, business, politics, law, and media.
Prominent American women from the same sectors are paired with Fellows who share their profession, with mentors committing to at least a one-year relationship, providing guidance, advice, and support.
Through a combination of intensive coursework at Southern Methodist University, hands-on skill development, sharing of best-practice models, mentor support, and network-building, the Fellows return home prepared to create significant and lasting changes in their countries.