Global Women’s Network: A Summit of Ideas, Innovation, and Partnerships


September 22, 2015

At the Bush Center, we envision a world where all children have access to education, women are living healthy, vibrant lives, and the economic life of countries is spurred by the active inclusion of women.


The 2015 Global Women’s Network spotlighted ideas, innovations, and partnerships that are making this dream a reality, disrupting the status quo and improving the lives of women and girls globally. Partnering with tech industry pioneers, the Bush Center is bringing together First Ladies, private and public sector leaders, and the next generation of innovators to showcase effective solutions to these pressing challenges.




    • Emphasize effective investments in women that lead to greater stability and prosperity in countries.


    • Build upon the success and outcomes from the 2013 and 2014 African First Ladies Summits.


    • Demonstrate the critical role First Ladies play as advocates for women and girls.


    • Highlight proven interventions that are addressing key issues and around the world.


    • Establish new introductions and foster public-private partnerships that lead to sustainable results.



Event Video


Remarks by Mrs. Laura Bush



Remarks by President George W. Bush





President George W. Bush


Mrs. Laura Bush


First Lady Michelle Obama


Secretary Margaret Spellings
President, George W. Bush Presidential Center


Ambassador Deborah Birx
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy,
U.S. Department of State


Cherie Blair CBE, QC
Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women


Scott Carpenter
Director of Free Expression, Google Ideas


John Damonti
President, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation


Brisa De Angulo
CEO, A Breeze of Hope Foundation


Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes
CEO, Akilah Institute for Women


Connie Duckworth
Founder & CEO, ARZU, Inc.


Vicki Escarra
CEO, Opportunity International


Shelly Esque
Vice President & Global Director of the Corporate Affairs Group, Intel Corporation


Kofi Essien 
Director, Open Learning Exchange (OLE) Ghana


Diana Fletschner
Sr. Director of Research, Monitoring & Evaluation, Landesa


Catherine Gill
Senior Vice President of Investor Relations & Operations, Root Capital


Noa Gimelli
Director of the Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative, ExxonMobil


Holly Gordon
Co-founder, Girl Rising


Aida G. Iglesias
Director-International Programs, Alfalit International, Inc


Cheryl Jereczek
Vice President of Philanthropy, World Vision


Iliana Martínez 
General Manager, Cooperativa Esquipulas R.L.


Khanyisile Mavimbela
Site Coordinator, mothers2mothers


Diana Monica Kisaka
Managing Director, T-MARC Tanzania


Wendy Kopp
Founder and CEO, Teach for All



Marne Levine
COO, Instagram


Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow
CEO, Mary’s Meals International


Hadeer Maher
Social Enterprise Practitioner, 2013 Women’s Initiative Fellow


Joyce Mapani
Cervical Cancer Screening Nurse, Livingstone Central Hospital


Diana Mao
President & Co-Founder, Nomi Network


Toshi Nakamura 
CEO and Co-founder, Kopernik


Josh Nesbit
Co-founder and CEO, Medic Mobile


Laura Quintana
Sr. Director, Cisco Systems


Sydney Price
SVP Corporate Social Responsibility, Kate Spade & Company


Will Snell
Director of Public Engagement & Development, Development Media International


Bill Steiger
Interim CEO, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon


Lakshmi Sundaram
Executive Director, Girls Not Brides


Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
Founder & CEO, sole Rebels


Nikki Toyama-Szeto
Vice President, International Justice Mission


Brittany Merrill Underwood
President & Founder, Akola Project


Panel Overviews and Marketplace Participants


Next Generation Innovators: Transforming Lives through Creative Interventions
Next generation innovators catalyze growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across the globe.  The inclusion of youth and the next generation is imperative to solving the most pressing issues the world is facing. From health and education, to economic growth and gender equality, our global youth are strengthening communities and creating a better future for the world.


This panel features accomplished entrepreneurs, civil-society advocates, and trailblazers in health, technology and social innovation.


The Power of Public Private Partnerships: Collaborating to Improve the Lives of Women and Girls
Studies show that empowering women economically and fostering women’s entrepreneurship can lead to further stability and growth across the globe. Investing in women entrepreneurs, including farmers, is a strategic approach to build stronger communities, stable societies, and sustainable economies. Research also shows that giving girls a quality education has tremendous multiplying effects for families, communities, societies, and the world — for generations. And, 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.


Public-private partnerships are having a significant and sustainable impact in addressing important gender issues around the world. The panel explores ways that private, public, and non-profit sectors in economic opportunity, agriculture, education, and health are effectively improving the lives of women and girls around the globe. The panel spotlights effective public-private partnerships and highlights the reasons why corporations have chosen to collaborate with partners to address critical issues, with a particular emphasis on those facing women and girls. Panelists will discuss interventions that employ public-private partnership models, cross-sector collaborations, and technology at both the grassroots and national levels; and will underscore the roles of First Ladies as champions of girls and women.




Invest in Women: The Key to Economic Prosperity
Evidence shows 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 25-33 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. According to the “Women and the Web” report published by Intel and its partners, nearly 25 percent fewer women are online than men in developing countries. 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. There is an increased global focus on women’s entrepreneurship as a key to economic growth and stability.  Financial inclusion of a woman is critical to fostering sustainable growth.  Investing in women entrepreneurs and supporting women business leaders are strategic approaches to building stronger communities and stable societies.


The Salon emphasizes the most innovative and effective methods and innovations that support women to thrive in emerging markets and the global marketplace, including access to a range of technology options, skills training and business development, access to capital and mentoring.  This session will feature an interactive panel discussion to highlight current trends; spotlight ways that key stakeholders are improving the lives of women to advance global development; and how public-private partnerships can invest.  Focus areas include: technology, banking, skills training, supply chains, and social entrepreneurship.

Education for All: Expanding Opportunities for Girls and Equipping Women Leaders
Research shows that providing quality education for girls has tremendous multiplying effects generationally, for both individuals and families. Improving access to education for all – with special attention to girls – is critical for the future of communities and countries worldwide. When women are educated, their children are more likely to be educated, and their families are healthier and more prosperous. Each additional year of schooling increases a woman’s income by up to 25 percent, reduces female fertility rates by 10 percent, and reduces child mortality by 18 per thousand.


This Salon spotlights transformative education solutions for women and girls. The session explores interventions that utilize cross-sector collaborations and technology to increase access to educational opportunities, and to improve quality and teacher training at both the grassroots and national levels. Panel experts are discussing cultural norms and attitudes that can impact girls’ access to education; highlight high-quality, cost effective education interventions; and the long-term benefits of higher education to prepare future women leaders.

Freedom from Injustice: Empowering Women and Girls by Combatting Exploitation and Discrimination
Human trafficking, child marriage, women’s rights (including land rights and voting rights), exploitation, violence and abuse are among the most distressing, and yet widespread, issues that women face around the world today. Worldwide, there are an estimated 30 million children, women and men are held as slaves. According to UNICEF, one in three girls in the developing world are married before age 18. And 35 percent of women globally have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence.


These challenges cut across countries, cultures, and religions. When women and girls are protected, they are able to give back to their community and country.  Protecting them is one of the highest callings of our time.   The Salon spotlights critical gender rights issues affecting women and girls around the world. The session features groundbreaking program models and platforms to prevent exploitation and discrimination, deliver restorative support services for survivors, and assert the rights of women and girls.

Healthy Women, Healthy Nations: Saving Lives Through Technology Advancement
Healthy women strengthen families, communities, and nations, driving global economic growth and prosperity forward. If a woman dies before her child reaches the age of five, that child is ten times more likely to die before adulthood. Especially in rural areas, a woman who is ill cannot provide for her family:  she cannot work her fields, or go to market, or ensure her sons and daughters have what they need to attend school.  In many cases, the children of a woman with a debilitating disease like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or cancer will see their opportunities for a better future slip away as they have to stay home to care for their mother or earn money to keep the household together.  Women with chronic but repairable conditions like fistula are often ostracized, and cannot work or even live with their families.


This Salon focuses on the role public-private partnerships are playing in address these challenges by delivering better health for women and girls through innovation.  The presentations will highlight cutting-edge technology that promotes positive health behaviors and helps women secure access to effective, quality health services, including for cancer.





The Global Women’s Network Marketplace is designed to showcase a select group of private sector and nonprofit organizations that are innovatively addressing critical gender challenges around the world.  Guests are invited to view and purchase unique products that are directly benefitting vulnerable communities, participate in hands-on demonstrations of technology used to improve lives, and learn about campaigns and organizations that are having a positive impact to advance the status of women and girls.


Participating Organizations:


Akola Project
Akola Project is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides vocational training, global employment, holistic care, and financial literacy for women in extreme poverty. Akola’s handmade jewelry and handbags provide dependable employment to over 400 women in Uganda and Dallas. The women use their monthly income to meet the needs of 4,000 children and to start local businesses in their communities, creating lasting sustainability for generations to come. Akola Project’s long-term goal is to create a global fashion brand that is fully made by but also fully benefits marginalized women.


ARZU Studio Hope
ARZU, meaning “hope”, transforms lives by empowering Afghan women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty through ethical, artisan-based employment, education, and access to healthcare, thereby changing the way they see the world and their place in it.  ARZU is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship with a mission to create economic stability for communities in need.  Through the sale of Afghan-made rugs and Peace Cord® bracelets, ARZU Studio Hope supports a holistic approach to sustainable poverty alleviation through artisan-based employment that empowers Afghan women. Women, earning fair labor wages, weave exquisite hand-knotted rugs and paracord bracelets. Innovative social benefit practices drive transformational change by providing grassroots access to vital education, healthcare, clean water, and sustainable community development programs.


Convoy of Hope
Convoy of Hope is a faith-based, nonprofit organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, women’s empowerment programming, community outreach, and disaster response. With a long history as an early responder in times of natural disasters, Convoy of Hope feeds approximately 147,000 children per day around the world and has been recognized as a Four Star nonprofit by Charity Navigator for 12 consecutive years.  Founded in 1994, Convoy of Hope has served more than 70 million people across the globe over the last 20 years.


Entoto Beth Artisan
Entoto Beth Artisan is a fair trade Ethiopian social business dedicated to restoring the HIV/AIDS-affected community on Entoto Mountain. Through a partnership with Beza Entoto Outreach, Entoto Beth Artisan is providing fair-wage employment to more than 100 women. Entoto Beth Artisan creates uniquely hand-crafted jewelry pieces using local materials such as recycled tire thread, reused artillery shells in metal beads and even coated Ethiopian coffee beans.


The community on Entoto Mountain is around 5000 people, about half of whom are affected by HIV/AIDS. Many within the community came to Entoto St. Mary’s Church seeking healing from their disease through fasting, praying and bathing in the holy water near the church. Many left their homes and relatives to come to Entoto Mountain in search of treatment, or because of the harsh stigma attributed to those with HIV/AIDS within their communities. Today, more than 100 women’s stories have changed through the partnership between Entoto Beth Artisan and Beza Entoto Outreach.


on purpose label by Kate Spade & Company
Kate Spade & Company designs and markets accessories and apparel under two global, multichannel lifestyle brands: kate spade new york and Jack Spade. Kate Spade & Company’s on purpose label is a small-batch collection that is fully manufactured in rural Rwanda. The supplier is located in Masoro, Rwanda and is a for-profit, employee-owned business comprised of 150+ Rwandan women who handcraft on purpose label products year-round. Through the manufacturing partnership with Kate Spade & Company, this supplier is able to provide full-time jobs for artisans, who in turn use their economic stability to create a ripple effect through their entire community. on purpose label products are available online and in kate spade new york stores around the world. A new collection debuts every three months, featuring handbags and handcrafted fashion accessories, each bearing a signed hang-tag from the artisan who worked on the product.


Nomi Network
Nomi Network is a nonprofit organization that provides training and job opportunities for survivors and women at risk for human trafficking. Founded in 2009, Nomi Network has trained hundreds of women, helped to create hundreds of local jobs, and developed skilled entrepreneurs. Through Nomi’s continued efforts, women in India and Cambodia are gaining employable skills, securing vital income, and educating their daughters. Women trained by Nomi are breaking the cycle of poverty and exploitation that has prevailed in their communities.


Westrock Coffee (Coffee break sponsor)
Westrock Coffee links farmers to customers.  The company aims to be a catalyst for real change in the lives of famers and their families through honest, direct trade with transparency at every single stage in the supply chain, from crop to cup. It is Westrock Coffee’s mission to create the transparency and traceability necessary to ensure growth and development at the farmer level. Westrock Coffee is proud to have a key role passing along value across each step, from our farmer’s crops in East Africa to their roasting facility in America. The end result is strong, sustainable growth at origin and a quality product for customers at a competitive price.




Special Thanks To


David and Kelly Pfeil
Bank of America
Estee Lauder Companies


Technology Partners




In-Kind Sponsor


Westrock Coffee Company