Investing in Our Future at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

August 6, 2014

As part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on August 6, 2014, the Office of the First Lady, the George W. Bush Institute, and the U.S. Department of State hosted a day-long forum focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships.

The Office of the First Lady, the George W. Bush Institute, and the U.S. Department of State are hosting “Investing in Our Future at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit,” a day-long spouses forum at the Kennedy Center. The forum brought together First Lady Michelle Obama, Mrs. Laura Bush, African First Spouses from more than 30 countries, leaders from non-governmental organizations and non-profits, private sector partners, and other leading experts. The forum highlighted the critical role first spouses play and focus on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships.

The inclusion and participation of women in every aspect of society is proven to lead to greater stability and prosperity of countries. When a girl is educated, she marries later, has fewer children, is healthier, and her family is more educated and successful. A woman’s health has a profound effect on her family’s well-being, including the vitality and future of her children as well as her ability to contribute to the livelihood of the family.

Because of the verified significance of women’s inclusion, “Investing in Our Future at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit” featured panels emphasizing the importance of women and girls’ education, women’s health – specifically cancers that afflict women and maternal and child health – and economic opportunity for women through entrepreneurship, technology, and agricultural innovations. Many African nations are making strides in these areas and the forum celebrates this progress.

Event Panels and Speakers

Introduction to Investing in Out Future

The Honorable Margaret Spellings
President, George W. Bush Presidential Center

The Honorable Tina Tchen
Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady

A Conversation with Mrs. Laura Bush and Mrs. Michelle Obama, Moderated by Cokie Roberts

Remarks by President George W. Bush

Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Announcements

Her Excellency Roman Tesfaye
First Lady of The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Ms. Penehupifo Pohamba
First Lady of The Republic of Namibia

Remarks by Dr. Jill Biden

Presentation by Young African Leaders

Education: Creating Opportunities and Investing in the Next Generation of Women Leaders

Research shows that giving girls a quality education has tremendous multiplying effects for families, communities, societies, and the world — for generations. However, in 47 out of 54 African countries, girls have less than a 50 percent chance of completing primary school. These low odds are compounded by issues such as child marriage, trafficking, and the undue burden that HIV/AIDS and other diseases place on female-headed households (through loss of income and orphaned children). This panel spotlights transformative education interventions and programs for women and girls; and the benefits of education to them, their families and their nations. Panelists will discuss interventions that employ public-private partnership models, cross-sector collaborations, and technology to improve access to educational opportunities for girls.

Her Excellency Lordina Mahama
First Lady of The Republic of Ghana

Panel Moderator
The Honorable Catherine M. Russell
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State Ambassador

Ann Cotton
Founder and President, Camfed International

Shelly Esque
Chairman of the Board, Intel Foundation, and Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs and Global Director of Corporate Affairs Group, Intel Corporation

Aïcha Bah Diallo
Chairperson and Founding Member, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)

Sara Ruto, Ph.D.
Regional Manager - Uwezo East Africa, Uwezo

Education Announcement
Reeta Roy
President and Chief Executive Officer, The MasterCard Foundation

Public-Private Partnerships: Fostering Women’s Economic Participation and Promoting Healthy Lives through Technology and Training

Studies show that empowering women economically and fostering women’s entrepreneurship can lead to further stability and growth across the globe. Around the world, women own approximately 25 to 33 percent of all private businesses in the formal economy, but they generally do not own the means of production, and win less than one percent of the business contract opportunities. Women invest up to 90 percent of their earnings on their families, as compared to men who invest 30 to 40 percent of their earnings in their households. In Africa, where it is predicted that seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies will emerge over the next five years, financial inclusion of women is critical to fostering sustainable growth. The panel will explore ways that key stakeholders, including the private, public, and non-profit sectors in technology, agriculture, and health are effectively improving the lives of women through entrepreneurship to advance Africa’s development.

Mrs. Cherie Blair
Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

Panel Moderator
Isha Sesay
Anchor and Correspondent, CNN International

Panelists - Economic Opportunity
Noa Gimelli
Director, Women’s Economic Opportunity, ExxonMobil

Neha Misra
Chief Collaboration Officer, Solar Sister

Panelists - Agriculture
Kay Kuenker
Global Leader, Public Affairs and Government Affairs, Dow AgroSciences

Damaris Achieng Odeny, Ph.D.
Scientist - Biotechnology, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Panelists - Health
Deborah Elam
President, GE Foundation, and Chief Diversity Officer, GE

Bernard Olayo, M.D.
MPH Founder and Chairman, Center for Public Health and Development (CPHD)

Public-Private Partnership Announcements
Maggie Sans
Vice President, International Corporate Affairs, Walmart Foundation

Michele Sullivan
President, Caterpillar Foundation, and Global Director of Corporate Social Innovation, Caterpillar

Special Thanks To

Ford Foundation
Convoy of Hope
Dow AgroSciences

Highlights of the Event