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Women’s Initiative Policy Advisory Council Discusses Fellowship Program and Afghanistan

May 3, 2012 3 minute Read by Charity Wallace

The Women’s Initiative Policy Advisory Council, a group of experts that help us with key decisions about our programming, met in Dallas last month along with Mrs. Laura Bush and the leadership of the Bush Institute. One big question was how to expand the Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program, which in February and March brought 14 women from Egypt to the U.S. for a month to acquire additional leadership skills and other tools to build strong networks that can have a lasting impact on their communities. Nearly all the Fellows are in fields such as education, health, business, law or media. During Egypt’s rocky transition, they are seeking to lay the foundations of strong civil society institutions that are essential to a sustainable democracy. The Advisory Council explored three issues: 1) whether to expand the program to two groups per year, 2) whether one of those groups should be from Egypt for the foreseeable future, and 3) where the second group should come from. The discussion was vigorous, and I will report soon on our decisions. In addition, the Advisory Council discussed the pressing issue of women’s rights in Afghanistan at a time when the United States and the Afghan government are negotiating with the Taliban. Afghanistan entered into the consciousness of most Americans only in 2011, after the 9/11 attacks, and women in this country were horrified to learn of the ruling Taliban’s brutal treatment of women and the strict prohibition on girls getting an education In subsequent years, progress has been substantial and heartening, and American women have moved to address the needs of Afghan women in such arenas as education, health care, and entrepreneurship.  At the Bush Institute’s conference on Building Afghanistan’s Future last year, President Hamid Karzai assured the audience that he would not relent on women’s rights, but many observers today are skeptical. In an op-ed in The Hill newspaper headlined, “Women’s rights key to Afghan success,” Mrs. Bush wrote, “We have reason to worry.” The Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative is resolved to continue to spotlight the brave women of Afghanistan and ensure that their plight is remembered even as talks with the Taliban proceed.

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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