The George W. Bush Institute has kicked off the African First Ladies Summit, “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa,” in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

George and Laura Bush Join Michelle Obama and the African First Ladies
George and Laura Bush Join Michelle Obama and the African First Ladies

Attended by George W. Bush and with support from ExxonMobil, the two-day summit brings together Heads of State, current and former First Ladies, government officials, academics and representatives from non-profit and private sector organizations around the world to focus on effective investments in women that lead to greater stability and prosperity in countries.

“The Bush Institute is proud to bring some of the brightest minds together to work on improving access to education, health services and economic opportunity for women and children across Africa. This Summit gives us the opportunity to exchange best practices and harness the power of public-private partnerships to further establish significant investments in women here,” said Bush Institute Executive Director James Glassman.

The Summit will highlight the critical role First Ladies play as advocates for women and girls, and provide examples and models of programs that are working to better the lives of women and girls across the continent.

“The inclusion of women and girls in all aspects of society strengthens the stability of nations,” said Charity Wallace, Director of the Women’s Initiative at the Bush Institute. “Improving the lives of women and girls with education and economic opportunity provides the fastest way to growing a nation’s economy, raising living standards and promoting peace.”

Day one features a discussion between current and former First Ladies of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama and Mrs. Laura Bush, moderated by Cokie Roberts. Panel discussions will highlight empowering women entrepreneurs through technology and improving agricultural outcomes for female farmers. Attendees will then head to off-site visits to NGOs focused on cervical and breast cancer, women’s entrepreneurship, and education.

Day two includes moderated panels on the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative to combat cervical and breast cancer, as well as a panel on critical interventions in education and literacy. The panels are followed by a summit village networking session and a call to action session.

“We know that when women have access to the right tools, training and opportunities, they act as catalysts for broader economic and social advancement. This Summit is a critical part of the ongoing dialogue and collaboration between governments, the private sector and community organizations to advance economic development and improve lives across the continent,” said Suzanne McCarron, President of ExxonMobil Foundation & General Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Additional participants include Mrs. Cherie Blair, Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women; the Honorable Nancy G. Brinker, Chair, Global Strategy, Susan G. Komen for the Cure; U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control; the Honorable Mark Dybul, Executive Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; Dr. Martin Fisher, Co-Founder and CEO, KickStart International; Dr. Julie Gerberding, President, Merck Vaccines; the Honorable Leslie Rowe, Ambassador, Office of Global Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State; and the Honorable Michel Sidibe, Executive Director, UNAIDS, Undersecretary-General of the United Nations.

African First Ladies expected to attend include Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur, Spouse, Vice President of Ghana; Mrs. Chantal Campaore, First Lady of Burkina Faso; Mrs. Maria da Luz Dai Guebuza, First Lady of Mozambique; Dr. Christine Kaseba, First Lady of Zambia; Mrs. Salma Kikwete, First Lady of Tanzania; Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma, First Lady of Sierra Leone; Mrs. Janet Kataaha Museveni, First Lady of Uganda; Mrs. Roman Tesfaye, First Lady of Ethiopia; and Mrs. Nompumelelo Zuma, First Lady of South Africa.

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