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Mrs. Bush’s Remarks on Women’s Leadership Roles in Saving Lives

July 27, 2012 5 minute Read by Charity Wallace

Mrs. Bush traveled to Washington D.C. this week to visit the AIDS Memorial Quilt and deliver remarks at the nineteenth International AIDS Conference.  While visiting the Quilt, Mrs. Bush remarked about the lives that were cut short and the unfulfilled promise of those who were lost to AIDS.  When Mrs. Bush’s mother-in-law, Barbara Bush was First Lady, she too visited the AIDS Quilt and worked to reduce the stigma around AIDs by kissing babies infected with HIV and hugging adults with AIDs.  During those early years, people thought you could “catch” AIDS, and Barbara Bush’s example helped to reverse this mistaken notion.  Ten years after President George H.W. Bush left office, his son, President George W. Bush, launched the largest initiative in history to combat a single disease. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which President Bush announced in his 2003 State of the Union address, has saved the lives of millions of people around the world - providing these individuals with the chance to fulfill their promise. Mrs. Bush spoke at the International AIDS Conference on Thursday to discuss the important leadership role women play in combating diseases, like AIDS and cervical cancer.  Mrs. Bush lauded the great progress that the international community has made to confront a pandemic that, just a decade ago, was threatening to wipe out an entire generation.  Due to the creation and intervention of PEPFAR, over 7 million people are now on life saving antiretroviral medicines and are living full, vibrant lives. Mrs. Bush told compelling stories of women that she met in her travels to 12 of the PEPFAR countries.  Women who contracted AIDS from their husbands or, more tragically, through sexual assault – but who, by revealing their painful stories, are experiencing triumph and are helping the next generation.  Mothers are learning how to prevent transmission of the disease to their babies, and girls are becoming educated about how to prevent contracting the disease. Women are leaders in their families and their impact upon the well-being of their children is significant. As Mrs. Bush said, healthy women make healthy families.  If a woman dies, her children are ten times more likely to die - and those who survive are less likely to go to school or to be fed.  There are also many women in leadership positions, like the First Lady of Zambia or the former Minister of Health of Botswana, who champion important issues regarding women’s health and welfare.  The voices and influence of national figures, community leaders, and mothers are imperative to the security of the next generation. The success of PEPFAR has taught us many important lessons about developing public private partnerships, and leveraging the unique assets of faith-based organizations, local leaders and, especially, women.  These lessons are now being implemented to combat other diseases.  The Bush Institute is partnering with PEPFAR, UNAIDS, Susan G. Komen for the Cure on a new global health initiative, called the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, to tackle cervical and breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa – starting in Zambia and Botswana.  Using the health infrastructure of PEPFAR, the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is expanding services to screen and treat women for cervical and breast cancer.  As President and Mrs. Bush often say, it is unacceptable for a woman to survive AIDS and die of cervical cancer, a preventable and treatable disease. Screening and treatment has already begun in Zambia.  The inexpensive interventions to combat cervical cancer are starting to save women’s lives – giving their children the opportunity to grow up with a mother and increasing their chance at a hopeful future. This post was written by Charity Wallace, Director of the Women’s Initiative  at the George W. Bush Institute. 


Author

Charity Wallace
Charity Wallace

Charity N. Wallace serves as the Senior Advisor to the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute and is in an executive graduate program in pursuit of a Global Master of Arts degree in international relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. Most recently, Ms. Wallace served as the Vice President of the Global Women’s Initiatives and Senior Advisor to Mrs. Laura Bush. In this role, Ms. Wallace was responsible for setting the vision and managing the policy engagement for the women’s initiatives, including Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon global health initiative, empowering women in the Middle East and working with First Ladies from around the world. The Women's Initiative aims to improve access to education, health care, and economic opportunity for women and children in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

From February 2009 through September 2010, Wallace served as the Chief of Staff to Mrs. Laura Bush.  Wallace oversaw Mrs. Bush’s initiatives - from her wide ranging policy agenda to her the publishing and promotion of Mrs. Bush’s bestselling book, Spoken from the Heart. Wallace served in the Bush Administration from January 2001 to January 2009.  During her tenure in the administration, she served as Deputy Chief of Protocol of the United States (2007-2009), Director of Advance for First Lady Laura Bush (2004-2007), and worked in public liaison positions in Presidential Advance, the U.S. Department of Education, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and USA Freedom Corps. During her tenure in the Bush Administration and in her current role, Wallace has traveled to 70 countries.

Ms. Wallace serves on the Board of Advisors for the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University, the Advisory Board of ARZU Studio Hope, the Advisory Board of 4word Women and the Advisory Board of All In Together, an bi-partisan organization that promotes women’s engagement in political and civic life.  Ms. Wallace is an ex-officio member on the Human Freedom Advisory Council for the Bush Institute.  Ms. Wallace wrote the foreword for the book Work, Love, Pray, which was released in 2011. A native of California, Ms. Wallace graduated magna cum laude from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, with a focus in international relations. 

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