First Day of George W. Bush Institute’s African First Ladies Summit Wraps Up
The first day of the George W. Bush Institute’s African First Ladies Summit, “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa,” featured a conversation with First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Laura Bush moderated by Cokie Roberts, as well as panel discussions that highlighted empowering women entrepreneurs through technology and improving agricultural outcomes for female farmers. The day also included announcements and commitments from several participants.
With support from ExxonMobil, the two-day Summit brings together Heads of State, current and former First Ladies, government officials, academics and representatives from non-profit and private sector organizations around the world to focus on effective investments in women that lead to greater stability and prosperity in countries.
Mrs. Bush delivered opening remarks, available here.
In her remarks, she noted:
“Each First Lady in this room has a unique platform and a podium to speak to the needs and challenges of the people in her country. As Lady Bird Johnson famously said, "A first lady is elected by only one person." Lady Bird Johnson knew that she had a podium and she chose to use it. I know that the First Ladies in this room are using their podiums. You are advocates and agents of change. And none of you needs to do it alone.That is why we are launching a First Ladies Initiative at the Bush Institute. We want to support First Ladies around the world by convening them annually to highlight the significant role they play in addressing pressing issues in their countries. We will provide opportunities for First Ladies to foster and expand effective public-private partnerships.With us, in this room are representatives from foundations, corporations, and non-governmental organizations. They form the backbone of public-private partnerships, the alliances that have been so successful in combatting HIV-AIDS, malaria, and now women’s cancers.A key goal of this summit is to help foster new and expanded public-private partnerships. Over the next two days, we will have opportunities to learn what makes a successful public-private partnership and you'll have the chance to meet many of these representatives so that you might form the foundations of new ones.”
Following her remarks, Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Bush’s conversation, moderated by Cokie Roberts, centered around the unique opportunity First Ladies have to spotlight and advocate for important issues, such as education and health. Video of the conversation is available here.
As part of a panel discussion on empowering women through training and technology, the ExxonMobil Foundation and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women announced a new mobile phone technology program for women entrepreneurs in Tanzania. The service – Business Women – is a mobile application that assists women in overcoming barriers to scaling up their businesses by providing essential business tips via their mobile device. Subscribers will receive content on a weekly-topic basis and content will be available to subscribers in either English or Swahili.
“This important service will make a difference to the lives of tens of thousands of women entrepreneurs in Tanzania in the next year, and hundreds of thousands more in the longer term on a global scale,” said Cherie Blair, Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
The program is targeted to reach 75,000 women. The pilot project launched in Nigeria last year and has already reached approximately 65,000 women. Given the success of the program in Nigeria, ExxonMobil and the Cherie Blair Foundation are hopeful that providing an accessible, relevant and locally-appropriate platform can help address the constraints that Tanzanian women face in expanding and growing their businesses.
Other announcements included Farm Radio International's launch of “Her Farm Radio,” an initiative that will work with radio stations in Africa to develop new programs ideally suited to meet the needs of women farmers. These programs will feature topics of interest to women farmers, be broadcast at a time women farmers can listen, feature women’s voices and address the special information needs of women farmers.
“Modern radio is a powerful tool for helping farmers move from subsistence to security. And we have heard that, with the right ingredients, women farmers can receive great benefits from farm radio,” said Japhet Emmanual, Program Director for Farm Radio International.
“Her Farm Radio” will also include three new projects: “The Orange Flesh Sweet Potato” radio project in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Burkina Faso, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; “The Demand Driven Participatory Radio Campaign” program in Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia and Uganda, funded by Irish Aid; and “The FarmQuest Reality Radio Program” in Mali, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Hannah Abney directs strategic communications and messaging for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, leading a team responsible for developing and implementing communication strategies that help advance the Bush Center’s work in developing leaders, fostering policy, and taking action to save and change lives.
Prior to joining the Bush Center, she led public relations activities for consumer and non-profit brands at The Richards Group. Abney also led communications efforts at a national retail trade association in Washington, DC, and served in the George W. Bush Administration in the Vice President’s Office.
A native of Milwaukee, WI, she is a graduate of the Southern Methodist University (B.A., Music) and lives in Dallas with her husband and young sons.Full Bio
3 Leaders Inspiring Us on International Day of the Girl
"When women everywhere have access to education, better health care, and growing opportunities, every boy and every girl will know that they have a bright future." - Mrs. Laura Bush In celebrating International Day of the Girl, here’s a look at three women leaders who have inspired us across our program work, moving the needle forward for girls across the globe: Razia Jan Education champion Razia Jan is the founder of the Zabuli Education Center in Afghanistan. Providing free access to K-12 schooling to girls in Deh’Subz, Razia stands as an enduring advocate for the power of education to bring “positive, peaceful change for current and future generations”. Despite challenges, including threats from the Taliban, for over eight years Razia’s school has thrived, welcoming over 550 students to date. Sharing her story in We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, Razia Jan, and other courageous women like her, are helping to forge a new path for their countr
America's First Ladies: In Service to Our Nation
Throughout history, First Ladies have stood as prominent champions on behalf of those serving in our nation’s armed forces. Advocating in support of troops in combat, veterans who have returned, and the military families that stand by those who serve, First Ladies have regularly leveraged their unique platforms to shepherd action in aid of the well-being of American service members. On September 16 in Washington DC, Mrs. Michelle Obama and Mrs. Laura Bush will participate in a moderated conversation with Bob Woodruff of ABC as part American University’s The Legacies of America’s First Ladies Initiative. The conference series features distinguished guests—first ladies, former presidents, and first families, White House staff, scholars, authors, members of the media—who highlight the significant contributions these women make by using their platform to advocate for issues, promote change, and improve our society. Both Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Bush h
Voices of Hope: A Conversation with Youth Activist Vivian Onano
In honor of International Youth Day and ahead of the Bush Institute’s panel at the 2016 Concordia Summit, here’s a look at what Vivian had to say about the role of young people in advancing some of the world’s most pressing challenges.