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Global Leadership: A Look Back At 2017

As we celebrate 2017, we reflect on some of the top moments from the Bush Institute's Global Leadership Impact Center, home to the Human Freedom initiative, Women's Initiative, and Global Health initiative.

Article by Miriam Spradling December 20, 2017 //   4 minute read
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discuss American leadership with moderator Amanda Schnetzer, Director of Global Initiatives.

Human Freedom Initiative 

In October, the Bush Institute hosted The Spirit of Liberty, a national forum in New York that kicked off a major new effort to affirm American values of freedom and free markets, strengthen the institutions that secure these values at home, and help create a new consensus that spreads these values abroad. The event included remarks by President and Mrs. Bush and brought together top business leaders, scholars, and policymakers to examine the challenges democracy faces at home and around the world. 

The Liberty and Leadership Forum, our training program that prepares young leaders to succeed during a democratic transition, graduated its third Burmese cohort in June. This year’s graduates include a sitting member of the democratically-elected Burmese Parliament; a Rohingya Muslim human rights advocate; a UN public information officer who volunteers to help lift children out of poverty; and a BBC journalist whose radio programming reaches millions of Burmese youth, all of whom are contributing to Burma’s transition to democracy. 

After analyzing the needs of North Korean refugees living in the United States, our Freedom in North Korea program worked with the Communities Foundation of Texas, Korean American leaders, and others to establish the North Korea Freedom Scholarship. In June, we distributed $25,000 to the first eight scholarship recipients, helping these escapees pursue a range of educational opportunities and build new lives in freedom.  

Women's Initiative

In September, Mrs. Bush participated in a Concordia Summit panel discussion with First Lady of Namibia Monica Geingos and First Lady of Panama Lorena Castillo de Varela.

The First Ladies Initiative released its inaugural research report, A Role Without a Rulebook: The Influence and Leadership of Global First Ladies. The report examines the expanding role of first ladies, their leadership on critical issues, the challenges they face in leveraging their unique platforms, and their ability to overcome those challenges to make a difference. The research includes interviews with 11 current and former first ladies, providing unique case studies for women’s leadership more broadly. 

In October, the Women’s Initiative Fellowship invited 14 women leaders from the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan to a weeklong workshop at the Bush Center. The workshop served to inform policy and research on women leaders’ roles in advancing economic opportunity as well as to refine the leadership and development model for the Bush Institute’s work in these regions. The workshop culminated in a lively roundtable discussion with experts and practitioners from public, private, and nonprofit sectors. 

In November, Mrs. Bush and First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani led a congressional briefing as part of the Afghan Women’s Project. In collaboration with 11 members of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, they met with 21 Members of Congress to advocate for an integrated strategy that ensures the security and prosperity of the Afghan people and to convey the importance of continued investment in Afghan women and girls. 

Global Health

President and Mrs. Bush visited Therisanyo Primary School in Botswana where the HPV vaccine is provided to girls. In partnership with Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, the Government of Botswana has successfully implemented nationwide HPV vaccination to prevent girls from developing cervical cancer as adults.

In April, President and Mrs. Bush visited Botswana and Namibia to demonstrate their continued commitment to the people of Africa and call for continued investment in global health. The trip highlighted the work of Bush Institute affiliate Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a valuable partner to African countries in the fight against women’s cancers, and the First Ladies Initiative. 

Demonstrating the influence of global first ladies, President and Mrs. Bush visited Ella du Plessis High School in Namibia to showcase First Lady Monica Geingos’s youth empowerment efforts and the First Ladies Initiative’s ongoing engagement with her office. 

The trip was President Bush’s seventh to Africa since leaving office. 

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