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Setbacks Don't Mean an End to Progress

July 26, 2012 by Charity Wallace

“Half a democracy is not a democracy,” Kuwaiti pioneer Rola Dashti said to Mrs. Bush (and the world) in summing up why she was pressing for women’s suffrage in her country.  And in 2005, Kuwaiti women finally won the right to vote.

In 2007, Mrs. Bush met with Rola Dashti and other women who ran for office in the 2006 elections.  Although the women were disappointingly defeated in those elections, they were excited about attaining suffrage.  This was an optimistic sign of progress for the women of Kuwait.  But, the progress must be advanced for real change for women to occur in Kuwait and other countries in the region, and the women remained committed to their cause. Three years later the women saw four of their own – including Dr. Dashti – become the first women elected to the country’s parliament in 2009. After another disappointing election earlier this fall, resulting in no female representation in the government, I just received news that Rola Dashti was appointed Minister of Development and Planning and State Minister for Parliament Affairs.   For anyone who has met Rola, you quickly recognize that she is a force – and women should be glad that she is fighting for their rights.  The struggle for the advancement and inclusion of women continues in Kuwait, and although there may be a few setbacks along the way the good news is there are remarkable champions like Rola Dashti continuing to lead the way for change.

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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