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The Year in Review for the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative
Women’s Initiative Fellowship
In March 2014, the second class of Women’s Initiative Fellows – 18 Egyptian women – graduated from the program and the 2014 Women’s Initiative Fellowship began with 17 Tunisian women. The Fellowship empowers and equips women to become effective and influential leaders, strengthen civil society in each respective Fellowship country, and develop expansive networks. The Fellowship worked with more than 40 action partners in the United States and convened three in-country training sessions, which were facilitated by two of the Egyptian Fellows (one from the 2012 Fellowship class and one from the 2013 Fellowship class), SMU professors, International Republican Institute leadership, and other trainers. A final training/mentor trip will occur in January 2015.
Investing in our Future at the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit
In August, as part of the U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit, the Office of the First Lady, the George W. Bush Institute, and the U.S. Department of State hosted Investing in Our Future at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a day-long spouses forum at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The forum brought together First Lady Michelle Obama, Mrs. Laura Bush, Mrs. Cherie Blair, African First Ladies from nearly 30 countries, leaders from non-governmental organizations and non-profits, private sector partners, and other leading experts. The forum emphasized the critical role first spouses play in advancing pressing issues, primarily for women and girls, and focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships.
Launched Inaugural Advisor Training Sessions
One of the ways the First Ladies Initiative supports First Ladies is by helping to prepare senior advisors through capacity-building training sessions. This year, the Initiative hosted its inaugural trainings for First Ladies’ senior staff, welcoming the participation of advisors from seven countries across Africa. Hosted in Washington, D.C. and New York City, 2014 curriculum focused on Strategic Planning for Effective National Programs and Creating a National Plan to Address Cervical Cancer.
First Ladies Collaborative Meetings
First Ladies Initiative events allow First Ladies to grow their networks, identify sustainable interventions, and create introductions that may serve as a catalyst for future partnerships. Building on program objectives and past engagement (including the 2013 and 2014 summits), the Bush Institute held two meetings in New York City for African First Ladies around the United Nations General Assembly:
- On September 24, Mrs. Laura Bush hosted a private luncheon for First Ladies, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Partners, and several notable organizations working to address critical health challenges around the world.
- Following the luncheon, on September 25, the First Ladies Initiative convened a roundtable discussion for First Ladies, their senior advisors, and organizations working to promote education, create economic opportunities, and improve health for women and girls in Africa. The gathering allowed participants to discuss their programs, identify mutual areas of interest, and explore the opportunity for future collaboration
Afghan Women’s Project
The Afghan Women’s Project continued to spotlight the successes and struggles of Afghan women, examining the stakes they face and encouraging sustained commitment. The Bush Institute blog featured an Afghanistan election overview and a series success stories of Afghan women. Mrs. Bush met with the Afghan Women’s Economic Empowerment Delegation sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program in April. In May, the Women’s Initiative co-sponsored an event with ARZU Studio Hope at the Bush Center.
What’s Happening in Afghanistan?
While there have been tremendous gains in Afghanistan, lack of security threatens these gains daily.
Q&A with Dr. Nilofar Ibrahimi, Member of Parliament, Afghanistan
Dr. Nilofar Ibrahimi is a member of the national assembly of Afghanistan. She represents Badakhshan province in the Wolesi Jirga (house of representatives). Her story is one of survival, pursuit of dreams, and dedication to women’s well-being and health. Here, Dr. Ibrahimi shares her thoughts on the current state of Afghan women’s empowerment, the challenges women face in achieving equal rights, and the impact women have on the country’s long-term peace, security, and prosperity.
In Case You Missed It: The Breadwinner, an Animated Film About the Strength and Resilience of Afghan Women and Girls, Premieres in the U.S.
Executive producer Angelina Jolie tells the story of Parvana, an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.
A Conversation: The Power and Influence of a First Spouse
At the 2017 Annual Concordia Summit Mrs. Laura Bush had a conversation with the First Lady of Namibia Monica Geingos and First Lady of Panama Lorena Castillo García de Varela about the role of first spouses, the value of women’s leadership, and how first spouses can be prominent voices for change around the world.