Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the Global Women’s Summit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. My dear friend Charity Wallace was the visionary behind this event, and my own work with the Bush Center Women’s Initiative afforded the invitation.
First Ladies from around the globe were there, along with leaders representing some of the most innovative solutions impacting women and children around the globe.
The sessions were engaging, stimulating, and challenging. I continue to marvel at how much President and Mrs. Bush do to change lives all over Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. President Bush described their motivation several times, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Several recurring themes emerged and my own observations include the following…
Small is Big – Virtually every speaker, be it a First Lady or a young entrepreneur, described themselves as small or insignificant, not out of insecurity or false humility, but in comparison to the issues they face and the needs to be met.
It struck me how often we all feel like this….small, lacking what it takes, insecure, even fearful. But this is where some do and some don’t. In other words, those who do simply do, they pick up the baton, run however they can run, and by doing so make an impact, typically far surpassing their expectations.
Collaboration is Everything – Everyone spoke of partnerships, of joining forces, learning from one another, building on others’ successes and failures, and how important it is to find others who say YES.
A highlight was when Michelle Obama joined via the web (she would’ve come but was hosting the Pope in D.C.), and she and Laura Bush described how much they admire one another and work together to build upon each other’s work. It was proof that women agree on far more things than they disagree on. “And it’s not just us it’s also our teams….our teams collaborate all the time,” they both said.
Stats Prove the Opportunity – These stats from various speakers were interesting and challenging..
- The median age in the world is 29 (younger in many developing nations)
- 3 billion people live on about $2 a day, and most are dependent on rural agriculture
- In just 12 years, 7 million people have received AIDS medicines in Africa, changing the pandemic tide, one that was taking out women of child-bearing age in particular
- Cervical cancer and breast cancer accompany the AIDS issues. 85% of cervical cancer is in developing nations. Mothers die, children are abandoned, society suffers. But the HPV vaccination is being widely distributed and screenings are expanding, Household vinegar is being used to treat cervical cancer at just 4 cents a treatment!
- When you give a woman a development dollar 90% of it goes directly to her family.
There was so much more but these are summary highlights. I left deeply challenged and hopeful, committed anew to use every resource of time and talent to invest and make a difference, at home and around the world.
Parting thought…What a wonderful time to be alive and be a woman!