Feature story

Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa

02 July 2013

Opening of the African First Ladies Summit Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa, convened by the George W. Bush Institute, in partnership with ExxonMobil, Tanzania, 2 July 2013.

Mrs Laura Bush and Mrs Michelle Obama today joined First Ladies of Africa in Tanzania to advocate for improved health and welfare for women across Africa. The current and former United States First Ladies, along with former President George Bush and President and Mrs Kikwete of Tanzania officially opened the African First Ladies Summit Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa, which was convened by the George W. Bush Institute, in partnership with ExxonMobil.

The summit, which is taking place 2-3 July, will highlight the critical role First Ladies can play as advocates for women and girls, spotlight success stories and best practices and encourage public-private partnerships that lead to sustainable results for women in Africa.

Participants will discuss how the inclusion and active participation of women in all areas of society increases the stability and prosperity of countries. They will also focus on how a girl’s education impacts the age at which she marries, the number of children she has, the education of her children, the health of her family and her ability to find gainful employment.

Sessions will be held on women’s health, specifically women’s cancers, education for women and girls and economic opportunity for women through entrepreneurship, technology and agricultural innovation.

On the second day of the Summit, Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, will join a panel discussion with the First Lady of Zambia Dr Christine Kaseba and Ambassador Nancy Brinker, founder and Chair of Global Strategy of Susan G. Komen for the Cure on the need for a comprehensive package of health services for women. 

The panelists will discuss the evolution of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an innovative partnership which works to expand the availability of vital cervical cancer screening, treatment and breast care education—especially for women living with HIV, as an innovative approach to bringing public and private partners together to support countries’ efforts to scale up services.

Progress of the initiative since the announcement of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon in September 2011 will be highlighted and reports from Zambia will show how existing health platforms, have been leveraged to expand services and accelerate progress against HIV and cervical and breast cancer. The panel will provide an opportunity to emphasize the role of national leadership, including that of First Ladies, and the way governments, non-profits, and private corporations must work effectively together to save lives.

UNAIDS is a founding member of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partnership together with the George W. Bush Institute, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.