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“When women move forward, the world moves with them”

In my last post I wrote about my recent trip to Jakarta, but there was something going on in Tanzania last week that I’d also like to highlight. ExxonMobil was proud to partner with the George W. Bush Institute on a two-day summit entitled “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa.”

The event in Dar es Salaam brought together First Ladies from several African nations, along with government officials, private organizations, NGOs and academics. It included discussions of best practices, particularly within public-private partnerships, that can reap sustainable, replicable results, benefit women and strengthen society.

Understandably, the joint appearance by Michelle Obama and Laura Bush received much media attention. (Check out this insightful Forbes piece about the unique “power platform” of American first ladies.)

But there were several additional developments that came out of Tanzania I’d like to flag that made the summit such a success:

  • The Cherie Blair Foundation (with whom the ExxonMobil Foundation also partners) announced the expansion of its Business Women service to Tanzania. This is a program that delivers business training to women through the mobile phone. It was launched in Nigeria and Indonesia last year, and in a short time has reached more than 75,000 subscribers. It recently received the Global Telecoms Innovation Award.
  • United Nations Foundation Senior Fellow Mayra Buvinic was interviewed on research from the U.N. and the ExxonMobil Foundation in our forthcoming joint report, A Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment. This collaborative effort aims to identify the most effective global investments that promote economic opportunities for women, and will provide a roadmap for action by identifying various interventions countries can implement in different stages of economic development and for differing types of women’s economic participation.
  • George W. Bush Institute executive director Jim Glassman and Suzanne McCarron, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation, co-authored a piece in the Huffington Post that explained why the Bush Institute and ExxonMobil are working together to foster public-private partnerships that will advance Africa’s women and develop their abilities. They call for “a sustained, collaborative effort from leaders around the globe.”

I was struck by an African proverb cited by Jim and Suzanne: “When women move forward, the world moves with them.” That goes a long way to explaining why ExxonMobil is investing so heavily in programs to advance women’s economic opportunity.