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Article by Charity Wallace July 26, 2011 //   3 minute read

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to speak at the iLive2Lead International Youth Summit in Washington, D.C.  The summit equips promising young women with the skills they need to become effective leaders in their communities and countries.  The young women I met came from more than 15 countries, including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Cambodia and a number of African countries.  Each had a powerful story to tell of overcoming adversity or finding new and creative ways to use their talents and resources to help others. This inspiring group of young leaders is the promise of the future.  They are living lives of purpose and consequence.  Each young woman has the conviction that her life will impact the lives of others.  Some of their stories are horrifying and incomprehensible, while others have led privileged lives.  All, however, are committed to becoming agents of change.  Many of these young women live in countries that oppress the rights of women.  Some were trafficked into the sex trade, others live amongst on-going wars, and some hail from countries that are now doing the hard work necessary to turn toward democracy.  But, all of the women are optimistic about their future and believe that they can lead the change -- they are the reason we strive, toil and hope. We know that women are powerful catalysts of change.  On every continent, there are compelling stories of women who are transforming their communities and countries.  Studies show that when women are educated, their family is healthier, more educated and successful.  And, research indicates that when women are included in the economy of their country, their communities and countries are more stable and prosperous.  Because women play a vital role in affecting peace, health, education and prosperity globally, we know that greater empowerment of women can lead to great progress. That is why President and Mrs. Bush have placed a strong emphasis on supporting women around the world who are lifting their voices and asking to be heard.  They believe that women are key to bringing about peace and democracy in the Middle East and around the world.  As the Bush Institute develops programs to empower women to transform their native countries, the stories of these young leaders will remain a constant reminder of the great need and the immense potential women offer.  Women are the best resource we have to realize a brighter and better future.  I applaud iLive2Lead for their efforts in equipping these young women to be unstoppable forces of transformation.