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First Ladies Gain Partnerships

Article by Charity Wallace September 30, 2013 //   5 minute read

Earlier this summer, the Bush Institute convened an African First Ladies Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania at which time Mrs. Bush announced the newest program within the Women’s Initiative:  The First Ladies Initiative.  The Bush Institute’s First Ladies Initiative partners with First Ladies to build a robust network of women working to advance education, good health and economic opportunity for women and children worldwide.

The Initiative helps prepare First Ladies’ senior advisors and staff with training sessions on effective governance, strategic planning, communication and more.

Additionally, and importantly, the Bush Institute helps to foster public-private partnerships by connecting First Ladies with funding partners, corporations and NGOs. 

Last week in New York City, the Bush Institute convened two events as part of the First Ladies Initiative to support first ladies in their significant work for women and children in their respective countries.

On Wednesday, the Bush Institute partnered with World Vision and Intel to host a roundtable with African first ladies and several foremost companies and NGOs to determine intersections and opportunities for collaboration.  The event gave the First Ladies an opportunity to describe their policy initiatives for which they are championing, and discuss other initiatives they want to support.  Each First Lady described areas in which she is seeking partnerships to expand the impact and effectiveness of her work. Leaders from Intel, Google, Microsoft, Bristol Myers Squibb, World Vision, Global Impact, and more listened intently to, and with great admiration for, the first ladies as they recounted their expansive portfolios.  The corporate leaders shared the focus of their corporate social responsibility work and identified important intersections between the work of their company and the initiatives of the first ladies.  The goal of the First Ladies Initiative is to foster public-private partnerships that are mutually beneficial in addressing pressing needs for women and girls across the globe, and the roundtable is an important step in achieving these partnerships.

On Thursday, Mrs. Laura Bush hosted a festive, small luncheon for eight African First Ladies, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, and several organizations that are working on the African continent to address education and health.  The luncheon gave the first ladies the opportunity to reconnect and provided a chance to expose the group to the new potential partners, namely Teach for All and Global Health Corps

Mrs. Bush invited Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America and Teach for All, to present about these effective programs that are attracting young, eager, bright young people to the teaching field – and have proven to raise the quality of education for young American students across the country.  Building on the successful model of Teach for America, Teach for All has expanded its reach to more than 30 countries around the world and is just beginning its program on the continent of Africa.  The First Ladies who attended the luncheon are eager to partner with Wendy to enhance the education programs in their respective countries. 

Barbara Bush, founder of Global Health Corps, also presented about her innovative and successful health program.  Modeled after Teach for America, Global Health Corps finds smart, global minded young people to work in the health field to address inequities in health.  A number of the First Ladies in attendance, including Mrs. Kagame from Rwanda, already have robust Global Health Corps programs in their countries – and there is opportunity for expansion to other countries in Africa.  Barbara shared her infectious passion for her work in the global health field, and introduced several Global Health Corps fellows, all of whom are from Africa, who attended the luncheon. 

The luncheon will surely result in collaboration between Teach for All and Global Health Corps – which will in turn, have a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals represented by the dynamic, powerful First Ladies who are ably serving their countries.